Explaining and Resolving Norm-Behavior Inconsistencies—A Theoretical Agent-Based Model

It is often assumed, that once people have internalized a norm, they behaved accordingly. However, empirical research has repeatedly shown inconsistencies between personal norms and behavior. In order to provide a better understanding of these inconsistencies and thus norm-based dynamics, we developed an agent-based model that includes a norm internalization process as well as a theory on how personal norms translate into behavior. The internalization process is embedded in a psychological theory of decision-making, containing different types of norms and other motivational factors. That allows investigating the behavioral consequences of internalized norms, explaining norm-behavior inconsistencies and exploring possibilities for their resolution. The agent-based DINO model was implemented within the context of a social dilemma game. The model illustrates how personal norms become behaviorally effective, whereas agents are able to develop conflicting personal norms and to behave contrary to their internalized norms. Reasons for norm-behavior inconsistencies are analyzed and different norm-based interventions are tested regarding their efficacy to resolve norm-behavior inconsistencies. The DINO model shows the crucial role of not just adopting a normative belief but also rejecting conflicting ones.