How Does Media Influence Social Norms? Experimental Evidence on the Role of Common Knowledge

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Authors Eric Arias
Paper Category
Paper Abstract How does media influence beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors? While many scholars have studied the effect of media on social and political outcomes, we know surprisingly little about the channels through which this effect operates. I argue that two mechanisms can account for its impact. Media provides new information that persuades individuals to accept it (individual channel), but also, media informs listeners about what others learn, thus facilitating coordination (social channel). Combining a field experiment with a plausibly natural experiment in Mexico, I disentangle these effects analyzing norms surrounding violence against women. I examine the effect of a radio program when it is transmitted privately versus when it is transmitted publicly. I find no evidence supporting the individual mechanism. The social channel, however, increased rejection of violence against women and increased support for gender equality, but unexpectedly increased pessimism about whether violence would decline in the future.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R

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