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Identity and in-group/out-group differentiation in work and giving behaviors: Experimental evidence

  • Ben-Ner, Avner
  • McCall, Brian P.
  • Stephane, Massoud
  • Wang, Hua

We investigate the existence and relative strength of favoritism for in-group versus out-group along multiple identity categories (body type, political views, nationality, religion, and more) in four alternative contexts: (1) giving money in a dictator game, (2) sharing an office, (3) commuting, and (4) work. We carried out two studies. The first study entailed hypothetical situations and imaginary people; the second study was similar to the first, but the dictator game component was incentivized (actual money) and involved actual receivers. Our subjects' behavior towards others is significantly affected by their respective identities. (1) Those that belong to the in-group are treated more favorably than those who belong to the out-group in nearly all identity categories and in all contexts. (2) Family and kinship are the most powerful source of differentiation, followed by political views, religion, sports-team loyalty, and music preferences, with gender being basically insignificant. (3) The hierarchy of identity categories is fairly stable across the four contexts. (4) Subjects give similar amounts and discriminate between in-group and out-group to similar degrees in the hypothetical and incentivized dictator games.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 72 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 153-170

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:72:y:2009:i:1:p:153-170
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  3. Avner Ben-Ner & Claire A. Hill, 2008. "Reducing The Negative Consequences Of Identity: A Potential Role For The Nonprofit Sector In The Era Of Globalization," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 79(3-4), pages 579-600, 09.
  4. Avner Ben-Ner & Louis Putterman, . "Trust, Communication and Contracts: An Experiment," Working Papers 0206, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
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  15. Boone, Christophe & De Brabander, Bert & van Witteloostuijn, Arjen, 1999. "The impact of personality on behavior in five Prisoner's Dilemma games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 343-377, June.
  16. Ben-Ner, Avner & Kramer, Amit & Levy, Ori, 2008. "Economic and hypothetical dictator game experiments: Incentive effects at the individual level," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 1775-1784, October.
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