The Impact of Social Norms on Behavior: Solving the ‘Spurious Correlation’ Dilemma
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In field studies documenting the behavioral impact of social norms, there often exists a “spurious correlation” dilemma with exogenous variables (Manski 1993; Young 2015). At Texas A&M University’s Memorial Student Center, a social norm mandates that individuals remove their hats upon entering the building (Bacon 2009). Previous research in this context, focusing on norm maintenance, has documented widespread compliance (Raterman et al. 2014). However, because hat removal upon entering any building is customary in Western culture (Storey 2008), behaviors observed in the MSC may not reflect the MSC’s norm. Observations of hat-removal behavior in the MSC, Evans Library and a local supermarket will measure and define the MSC hat-removal norm’s impact on behavior, thus testing for correlation. A significant difference between the rates of hat-removal at the MSC and the “control” locations would indicate that the MSC’s norm impacts behavior distinctively.
spurious correlation problem
Texas A&M University traditions
Memorial Student Center
Daiy, Katherine Elaine (2018). The Impact of Social Norms on Behavior: Solving the ‘Spurious Correlation’ Dilemma. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from