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Social Distance and Parochial Altruism: An Experimental Study

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  • Béatrice Boulu-Reshef

    () (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl

    (University of Virginia, The Department of Politics)

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 new experimental findings about the impact of variation in social distance within the in-group together with variation in social distance between the in-and out-groups on parochial altruism. Building from a minimal group paradigm setup , we find that differential social distance has a systematic effect on individual choice in a setting of potential inter-group conflict. In particular, parochial altruism is stimulated when individuals' distance to both their in-and out-group is high. A long-standing finding about behavior in contexts of inter-group conflict is that low social distance facilitates collective action. Our results suggest that the effects of high social distance may create a potential additional pathway to group-based individual action. Research on inter-group conflict and collective action can be advanced by investigating such effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Béatrice Boulu-Reshef & Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl, 2019. "Social Distance and Parochial Altruism: An Experimental Study," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-02135633, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:hal-02135633
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02135633
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    1. Keuschnigg, Marc & Schikora, Jan, 2014. "The dark side of leadership: An experiment on religious heterogeneity and cooperation in India," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 19-26.
    2. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    3. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    4. Keuschnigg, Marc & Schikora, Jan, 2014. "The Dark Side of Leadership: An Experiment on Religious Heterogeneity and Cooperation in India," MPRA Paper 57533, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Carol R. Ember & Melvin Ember, 1992. "Resource Unpredictability, Mistrust, and War," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 36(2), pages 242-262, June.
    6. Scott Huettel & Rachel Kranton, 2012. "Identity Economics and the Brain: Uncovering Mechanisms of Social Conflict," Post-Print halshs-00754597, HAL.
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