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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," Working Papers hal-02135633, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-02135633
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02135633
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