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The impact of distance on parochial altruism: An experimental investigation

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  • Boulu-Reshef, Béatrice
  • Schulhofer-Wohl, Jonah

Abstract

Parochial altruism – individual sacrifice to benefit the in-group and harm an out-group –undermines inter-group cooperation and is implicated in a plethora of politically-significant behaviors. We report experimental evidence about the impact of variation in individuals’ distance to in-group members and to out-group members on parochial altruism in a setting in which inter-group conflict is made possible. We find that distance has systematic effects on individual choice. Parochial altruism is stimulated particularly when individuals’ distance to both their in- and out-group is high. Our results suggest that high distance may create a pathway to group-based individual action. Existing research focuses on the interaction between close-knit in-groups and proximate, threatening out-groups as the typical setting in which parochial altruism occurs. Our study indicates the need for future research to investigate how parochial altruism can occur across a wider range of in-group and out-group configurations.

Suggested Citation

  • Boulu-Reshef, Béatrice & Schulhofer-Wohl, Jonah, 2022. "The impact of distance on parochial altruism: An experimental investigation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:75:y:2022:i:c:s0176268022000374
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2022.102222
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Parochial altruism; Distance; Laboratory experiment; Inter-Group Prisoner’s Dilemma-Maximizing Difference; IPD-MD; Conflict; Inter-group conflict;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

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