A Social Psychological View on the Social Norms of Corruption

  • Nils C. Köbis
  • Daniel Iragorri-Carter
  • Christopher Starke
Part of the Political Corruption and Governance book series (PCG)


A social psychological perspective toward corruption encompasses the following question: Why do some people in the same context abuse power for their private gains while others do not? This chapter identifies social norms as a crucial variable to explain corruption on all levels of analysis and psychological justification processes. First, we outline the distinction between injunctive and descriptive norms, and explain their role with regard to corrupt behavior. Second, we review the emerging experimental literature on corruption and present novel experimental data from a comparative study in order to solidify the relationship between social norms to corruption. Third, drawing on developmental psychology theories, we illustrate how social norms are acquired, maintained, and ultimately changed. The chapter concludes with our remarks on how to successfully fight corruption.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nils C. Köbis
    • 1
  • Daniel Iragorri-Carter
    • 2
  • Christopher Starke
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and Business, Section MicroeconomicsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands
  2. 2.Department of Work and Social PsychologyUniversity of MaastrichtMaastrichtNetherlands
  3. 3.Department of CommunicationUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany

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