Collective rule-breaking

Trends Cogn Sci. 2021 Sep 4;S1364-6613(21)00206-0. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2021.08.003. Online ahead of print.


Rules form an important part of our everyday lives. Here we explore the role of social influence in rule-breaking. In particular, we identify some of the cognitive mechanisms underlying rule-breaking and propose approaches for how they can be scaled up to the level of groups or crowds to better understand the emergence of collective rule-breaking. Social contagion plays an important role in such processes and different dynamics such as linear or rapid nonlinear spreading can have important consequences for interventions in rule-breaking. A closer integration of cognitive psychology, microsociology and mathematical modelling will be key to a deeper understanding of collective rule-breaking to turn this field of research into a predictive science.

Keywords: collective behaviour; contagion; rule-breaking; violence.

Publication types

  • Review