Father and child

How do social norms change?

Social norms change all the time, in all societies. But what determines which norms change and which norms do not?

It was not long ago that smacking children or being against women’s right to vote was common in Sweden. These and many other norms have changed radically here and similar shifts have occurred across the globe. While these changes are well documented, the field still lacks a theory that explains when and how norms change. The aim now is to produce such a theory.

The investigations are done in three steps. First psychological experiments and surveys map the differences in interactions that could underlie norm change. Then mathematical models are developed to investigate what norm shifts these differences should result in when aggregated over many people and long time. Finally these predictions are tested against historical data on norm shifts.




Principal Investigator

Pontus Strimling, Wallenberg Academy Fellow at Stockholm University.

Project members

Minna Persson Master’s degrees in Linguistics, Migration


Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation