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Other-regarding preferences, in-group bias and political participation: An experiment

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  • Robalo, Pedro
  • Schram, Arthur
  • Sonnemans, Joep

Abstract

This paper presents an experimental study on the relationship between other-regarding preferences, in-group bias and political participation. We conjecture that subjects who are more other-regarding and exhibit higher in-group bias are more likely to bear the costs of participating in group action. Using a participation game, we implement laboratory elections in which two groups compete for victory. We induce different levels of in-group bias across subjects in order to implement treatments in which the competing groups are either highly biased towards the own group vis-à-vis the other one or are characterized by low levels of such in-group bias. Our results show that, at the aggregate level, participation is higher in environments where in-group bias is more pronounced. Furthermore, the least other-regarding subjects participate much less often that others, while the more other-regarding sustain high participation levels. These findings suggest that interpersonal preferences and intergroup bonds can explain the higher participation of close-knit (political) groups observed in the field.

Suggested Citation

  • Robalo, Pedro & Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 2017. "Other-regarding preferences, in-group bias and political participation: An experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 130-154.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:130-154
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2017.04.009
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