Tra i Leoni: Revealing the Preferences Behind a Superstition

Joshua Miller, Giovanna Invernizzi, Tommaso Coen, Martin Dufwenberg, Luiz Edgard R Oliveira

OSF Preprints | Published : 2019


We investigate a superstition for which adherence is nearly universal. Using a combination of field interventions that involve unsuspecting participants and a lab-style value elicitation, we measure the strength of peoples' underlying preferences, and to what extent their behavior is driven by social conformity rather than the superstition itself. Our findings indicate that both mechanisms influence behavior. While a substantial number of people are willing to incur a relatively high individual cost in order to adhere to the superstition, for many, adherence is contingent on the the behavior of others. Our findings suggest that it is the conforming nature of the majority that sustains the fa..

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University of Melbourne Researchers