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Making up people—The effect of identity on performance in a modernizing society

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  • Hoff, Karla
  • Pandey, Priyanka

Abstract

It is typically assumed that being hard-working or clever is a trait of the person, in the sense that it is always there, in a fixed manner. However, in an experiment with 288 high-caste and 294 low-caste students in India, cues to one's place in the caste system turned out to starkly influence the expression of these traits. The experiment allows us to discriminate between two classes of models that give different answers to the question of how someone's identity affects his behavior. Models of the fixed self assume that identity is a set of preferences. Models of the frame-dependent self assume that identity entails a set of mental models that are situationally evoked and that mediate information processing. Our findings suggest that the effect of identity on intellectual performance depends sensitively on the social setting. This perspective opens up new policy options for enhancing human capital formation and development.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 106 (2014)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 118-131

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:106:y:2014:i:c:p:118-131

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

Related research

Keywords: Randomized experiment; Labels; Social identity; Institutional change; Stereotype threat; Caste;

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References

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  1. Greif, Avner & Tabellini, Guido, 2012. "The Clan and the City: Sustaining Cooperation in China and Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 9072, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Lambarraa, Fatima & Riener, Gerhard, 2012. "On the norms of charitable giving in Islam: A field experiment," DICE Discussion Papers 59, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  3. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2008. "Exploring the Impact of Financial Incentives on Stereotype Threat: Evidence from a Pilot Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 370-75, May.
  4. Orana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Karla Hoff & Mayuresh Kshetramade & Ernst Fehr, 2010. "Caste and punishment: the legacy of caste culture in norm enforcement," IEW - Working Papers 476, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Karla Hoff & Priyanka Pandey, 2006. "Discrimination, Social Identity, and Durable Inequalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 206-211, May.
  7. LeBoeuf, Robyn A. & Shafir, Eldar & Bayuk, Julia Belyavsky, 2010. "The conflicting choices of alternating selves," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 48-61, January.
  8. Hanming Fang & Glenn C. Loury, 2005. ""Dysfunctional Identities" Can Be Rational," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-147, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  9. Farzana Afridi & Sherry Xin Li & Yufei Ren, 2010. "Social Identity and Inequality: The Impact of China's Hokou System," Working Papers id:3003, eSocialSciences.
  10. Karla Hoff & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2010. "Equilibrium Fictions: A Cognitive Approach to Societal Rigidity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 141-46, May.
  11. Daniel J. Benjamin & James J. Choi & A. Joshua Strickland, 2007. "Social Identity and Preferences," NBER Working Papers 13309, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Priyanka Pandey, 2010. "Service Delivery and Corruption in Public Services: How Does History Matter?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 190-204, July.
  13. Fehr, Ernst & Hoff, Karla & Kshetramade, Mayuresh, 2008. "Spite and development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4619, The World Bank.
  14. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
  15. Kaivan Munshi & Mark Rosenzweig, 2006. "Traditional Institutions Meet the Modern World: Caste, Gender, and Schooling Choice in a Globalizing Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1225-1252, September.
  16. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  17. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
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