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Unlawful media consumption: A controlled experiment with a representative sample




This seminar is part of the Department of Economics Seminar Series 2017-18. The seminars are open to all - no registration necessary. If you would like to receive email notification of the Department’s seminars, please send your request to


Speaker: Professor Daniel Zizzo (Newcastle University)

We report the results of a controlled online experiment on unlawful consumption of non-rivalry consumer goods such as film and music, with a sample of 1,010 participants, representative for the adult population aged 18 to 64 in the United Kingdom, trying to get a better causal understanding of determinants of unlawful consumption in a simplified experimental setting.

We find the expected negative relationship between risk of punishment and probability of unlawful consumption, but with clear overweighting of small probabilities. We control for different components of social norms as well as for moral beliefs, and find that moral beliefs are a strong predictor of unlawful consumption.

The normative component of social norms (‘what you think others think one should do’) is not significant when one controls for moral beliefs, while the descriptive component (‘what you think others do’) retains some predictive power. Unlawful consumption in the lab predicts stated unlawful file sharing in the natural world, both for film and for music, while not predicting stated unlawful streaming.

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When and where

3.00pm - 4.30pmWednesday 25th October 2017

DLG09 Rhind Building City, University of London Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom