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Abstract

In three studies the hypothesis was tested that for young Dutch children, who associate Saint Nicholas with the norm to share one's wealth with others, attributes of Saint Nicholas (miter, book, and staff) would spontaneously activate the “sharing norm” and subsequent sharing behavior. The results confirmed our expectations. In two studies, young Dutch children share more candy with others after being primed with attributes of Saint Nicholas compared to being primed with a dwarf in the control condition. In a third study, children evaluate sharing more positively after being primed with attributes of Saint Nicholas, and more negatively after being primed with the Toys R Us logo, compared to being primed with a dwarf. This is the first empirical evidence that attributes of normative symbols can induce normative behavior and change norm judgments. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.