Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence

  • cristina bicchieri

Cristina Bicchieri, Ph.D.

Department of Philosophy (SAS) and Wharton
Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, Professor of Legal Studies

Professor Bicchieri's research focuses on judgment and decision making, especially pro-social decisions, and how social expectations affect behavior. Social norms are a big part of this work, and many of her experiments show the effect of norms on behavior. She also is interested in the evolution of social norms, how they can emerge and decay. 


In her recent work, she designed behavioral experiments aimed at testing hypotheses based on the theory of social norms that she developed in her book, The Grammar of Society: the Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms (Cambridge University Press, 2006). The experimental results show that most subjects have a conditional preference for following pro-social norms. Manipulating their expectations causes major behavioral changes. Policymakers who want to induce pro-social behavior have to work on changing people’s social expectations. 


Her new book, Norms in the Wild: How to Diagnose, Measure and Change Social Norms, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, summarizes her experience consulting with UNICEF and other NGOs on social norms including norms about violence against women. In the book, she stresses measurement and change, and what sort of policies may be most conducive to positive social change.


Her work on dynamics of social norms asks how norms may emerge and become stable, why an established norm may be abandoned, how is it possible that inefficient or unpopular norms survive, and what motivates people to obey norms.




Bicchieri C, Marini A.  Female genital mutilation:  Fundamentals, social expectations and change, 2015.


Bicchieri C, Mercier H. Norms and beliefs: How change occurs. Iyyun: The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly 63, 2014. Reprinted in B. Edmonds (ed.) The Complexity of Social Norms, Springer, 2014.


Bicchieri C, Lindemans, Jiang.  A social norms perspective on child marriage:  The general framework. UNICEF, 2014.


Bicchieri C. What are norms? UNICEF lecture. http://www.academia.edu/13086749/What_are_Norms_UNICEF_Lecture_2014


Bicchieri C, Lindemans J, Jiang T. A structured approach to the diagnostic of collective practices, Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 5, December 2014


Bicchieri C, Muldoon R, Hartmann S, Lisciandra C, Sprenger J. On the emergence of descriptive norms. Politics, Philosophy and Economics, 13 (1): 3-22, 2014