ICES Occasional Brown Bag for March 27

Events, Seminars | March 21, 2014

Join us for an ICES Occasional Brown Bag Lecture, featuring Eugen Dimant.

Mr. Dimant, of the University of Paderborn, will discuss his paper Contagion Effects in Crime and the Role of Social Proximity: An Experimental Investigation (abstract). The talk will take place on Thursday, March 27th, from 12:00PM to 1:00PM, in room 5075 of the Metropolitan Building, Arlington campus.

Coffee and dessert will be provided.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP with Stan Tsirulnikov.

Please visit the Brown Bag Schedule to learn more about upcoming brown bags.


A basic principle of classical economic theory suggests that individuals rationally form expectations based on available information, consequently exercising behavior in accordance to an inner assessment. A contrasting strain of literature accounts for the relevance of behavioral traits on the individual decision-making process, indicating that individual behavior is also affected by other peoples’ behavior. Research is still relatively quiet on answering the question to what extent peers (or more specific: social proximity) are actually affecting individual behavior. In this context, contagion effects of behavior play a relevant role when examining the development of crime. Anecdotal evidence suggests that criminal behavior indeed ‘infects’ initially innocent bystanders, consequently inducing an acceleration of criminal behavior. Our experiment deals with the question of whether people assimilate with observed behavior given a particular social environment and to what extent they do so, while taking care of the different channels through which conformity might arise. Our results indicate that the individual’s conformity is indeed subject to social proximity. Individuals acknowledge the value of information given about their peers and mainly try to conform to both good and bad behavior. Social pressure is indeed powerful enough to induce both crowding-in and crowding-out of deviant behavior. Overall, the experiment not only fosters general understanding concerning the drivers of imitative behavior but also provides an indication of the role of interaction, reputation and social proximity.

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