A game-theoretic framework is developed to study the evolution of social norms in a society.
The two main theoretical assumptions underpinning the model are, first, that agents have
some kind of “social” preferences, in addition to standard “self-interested” preferences.
Second, individuals modify their behaviour over time in accordance to the “imitation of the
most successful agent” paradigm. A stylised model of social interactions is developed, along
with concepts of static and dynamic equilibria. After social preferences are specified in
accordance with the normative expectation theory, an analysis of the type of equilibria in
public goods interactions is provided. Finally, the impact on co-operation of a change in a
society’s modes of behaviour, which may be seen as a result of migration or the impact of
global communication media, is studied.
Keywords: Co-operation, social norms, evolution