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Ally or adversary: The effect of identifiability in inter-group conflict situations


  • Ritov, Ilana
  • Kogut, Tehila


People's tendency to be more generous towards identifiable victims than towards unidentifiable or statistical victims is known as the identifiable victim effect. Recent research (Kogut & Ritov, 2007) called the generality of the effect into question, showing that in cross-national contexts, identifiability affects mostly willingness to help victims belonging to one's 'in-group'. The present research extends the investigation by examining the identifiability effect in inter-group conflict situations. In three experiments, employing hypothetical contributions as well as real monetary allocation in a dictator-game, we found that identifiability increased generosity towards a member of the adversary group, but it decreased generosity towards a member of one's own group. Possible mechanisms underlying this interaction are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Ritov, Ilana & Kogut, Tehila, 2011. "Ally or adversary: The effect of identifiability in inter-group conflict situations," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 116(1), pages 96-103, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jobhdp:v:116:y:2011:i:1:p:96-103

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    2. Small, Deborah A & Loewenstein, George, 2003. "Helping a Victim or Helping the Victim: Altruism and Identifiability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 5-16, January.
    3. Kogut, Tehila & Ritov, Ilana, 2005. "The singularity effect of identified victims in separate and joint evaluations," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 106-116, July.
    4. Paul Slovic, 2007. ""If I look at the mass I will never act": Psychic numbing and genocide," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 2, pages 79-95, April.
    5. Jenni, Karen E & Loewenstein, George, 1997. "Explaining the "Identifiable Victim Effect."," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 235-257, May-June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Erlandsson, Arvid & Björklund, Fredrik & Bäckström, Martin, 2015. "Emotional reactions, perceived impact and perceived responsibility mediate the identifiable victim effect, proportion dominance effect and in-group effect respectively," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 1-14.


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