Of all the interventions that have come to the fore since the behavioural revolution in government, perhaps the most prominent has been the use of social norms to encourage behaviours. Whether it’s encouraging people to pay their taxes on time, getting doctors to reduce their antibiotic prescriptions or boosting classroom attendance, these norms are now in use around the world, from London to Guatemala.
Increasingly, social norms are seen as boring but effective, and that we don’t even need to bother testing their use any more. That’s a dangerous conclusion to make when not all the evidence is in.
That’s why we’re running a Symposium on Social Norms in Public Administration in the Journal of Behavioural Public Administration. We want to see well designed field experiments that test social norms – messages like “9 out of 10 people pay their tax on time”, both in fields where that’s already been done, and in novel ones. We especially welcome papers from current public servants (although papers from academics are very welcome), and papers which report non-significant (i.e. null) results.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s clear out those file drawers!