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Social motives in intergroup conflict


  • Ori Weisel

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics)

  • Ro'i Zultan

    (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)


We experimentally test the social motives behind individual participation in intergroup conflict by manipulating the framing and symmetry of conflict. We find that behavior in conflict depends on whether one is harmed by actions perpetrated by the out-group, but not on one's own influ- ence on the outcome of the out-group. The way in which this harm is presented and perceived dramatically alters participation decisions. When people perceive their group to be under threat, they are mobilized to do what is good for the group and contribute to the conflict. On the other hand, if people perceive to be personally under threat, they are driven to do what is good for themselves and withhold their contribution. The first phenomenon is attributed to group identity, possibly combined with a concern for social welfare. The second phenomenon is attributed to a novel victim effect. Another social motive-reciprocity-is ruled out by the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Ori Weisel & Ro'i Zultan, 2013. "Social motives in intergroup conflict," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-033, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2013-033

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    intergroup conflict; intergroup prisoner's dilemma; asymmetric conflict; framing;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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