The authors thank two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments on earlier drafts. The research was supported by a grant (SES-8711961) from the Law and Social Science Program of the National Science Foundation.
Listening to Different Voices: Formation of Sanction Beliefs and Taxpaying Norms1
Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 21, Issue 2, pages 119–138, January 1991
How to Cite
Stalans, L. J., Kinsey, K. A. and Smith, K. W. (1991), Listening to Different Voices: Formation of Sanction Beliefs and Taxpaying Norms. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 21: 119–138. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1991.tb00492.x
- Issue published online: 31 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 31 JUL 2006
How do people form beliefs about sanctions and norms toward the legal system? Using data from a telephone survey with 1,200 Minnesota adult residents, we examine how income sources that provide an opportunity to avoid official detection shape the amount and sources of communication about IRS enforcement effectiveness. Individuals with economic exchanges that provide the opportunity to cheat without detection received significantly more information about tax issues and IRS enforcement, especially from co-workers. Although both family members and co-workers were major sources of tax information, individuals received more information about IRS enforcement effectiveness from co-workers than from family members. Communication with co-workers lowered the perceived likelihood of IRS detections for overstating deductions, lowered the perceived severity of informal sanctions for tax cheatings, and lowered the perceived fairness of tax laws and positive personal norms toward compliance with tax laws. In contrast, communication with family members enhanced the perceived fairness of tax laws and positive personal norms toward compliance with tax laws. These findings are interpreted in the framework of social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954). We discuss implications for the theory and research on the development of beliefs about enforcement systems and compliance with laws.