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Teaching by example and induced beliefs in a model of cultural transmission

Adriani, Fabrizio; Matheson, Jesse A.; Sonderegger, Silvia


Fabrizio Adriani

Jesse A. Matheson


We augment standard models of cultural transmission with an explicit account of social learning, grounded in the information transmission literature. Youngsters observe the behavioral trait of a role model and form beliefs about the desirability of that trait. Adults have better information about each trait and have a paternalistic attitude toward their children. This makes them reluctant to adopt myopic behavior to avoid setting a negative example to their children. This signaling distortion increases in the influence parents have over their offspring. We extend the model to allow parental influence to depend on the population frequency of each trait and show that cultural complementarity does not imply convergence to a homogeneous population. We find empirical support for a positive relationship between parental influence and propensity to exert self-restraint by looking at alcohol and tobacco consumption.


Adriani, F., Matheson, J. A., & Sonderegger, S. (2018). Teaching by example and induced beliefs in a model of cultural transmission. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 145,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 28, 2017
Online Publication Date Dec 5, 2017
Publication Date Jan 2, 2018
Deposit Date Dec 5, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Journal Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Electronic ISSN 0167-2681
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 145
Keywords Parent-Child Signaling, Cultural Transmission, Social Learning, Conformity
Public URL
Publisher URL


JEBOrevision_28_07.pdf (460 Kb)

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