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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoff, Karla & Pandey, Priyanka, 2014. "Making up people—The effect of identity on performance in a modernizing society," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 118-131.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:106:y:2014:i:c:p:118-131
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2013.08.009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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