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Thou Shalt Not Steal: Effects of Normative Cues on Attitudes towards Theft

Author(s): Judith de Groot | Wokje Abrahamse | Sarah Vincent

Journal: Psychology
ISSN 2152-7180

Volume: 04;
Issue: 04;
Start page: 438;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Normative Influence | Social Norms | Theft | Injunctive Norms | Descriptive Norms

In this study, we examine how normative cues influence attitudes towards theft. In a 3 × 2 × 2 within-subjects design (N = 120), we found that people had more negative attitudes towards theft when: 1) a higher value item was stolen than when a lower value item was stolen; 2) the theft took place in a public setting than when it took place in a private setting; and 3) the theft took place in a tidy rather than messy setting. Furthermore, our findings showed interaction effects between the value of a stolen item and 1) the cleanliness of the environment; and 2) the privateness of a setting, on attitudes towards theft. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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