Michal Bauer (Charles University Prague) on "Peers and Contagion of Ethnic Hostility"

Speaker:  Michal Bauer - Charles University Prague
  Friday, September 18, 2015 at 12:30 PM Sala Seminari, Vicolo Campofiore 2
Ethnic hostilities often spread rapidly and this makes it essential to understand how individual willingness to engage in making harm is shaped. Here we study the influence of peers among adolescents and present experimental evidence from a region characterized by tensions with Roma, the largest ethnic minority in Europe. We examine the effect of observing choices of randomly assigned peers on the individual willingness to pay harm to Majority or Roma counterparts in incentivized tasks. On the optimistic side, we find that subjects do not discriminate against the ethnic minority when choices are performed in isolation from peers or when individuals are exposed to observing peaceful behavior of peers. On the pessimistic side, we find that individual tendency to follow destructive behavior of peers is greatly amplified when a subject of hostility is a member of the ethnic minority, as compared to a co-ethnic. As a consequence, the ethnic discrimination arises. The results can help to explain why ethnic hostilities of masses can spread very quickly, even in societies with few visible signs of systematic inter-ethnic hatred.

Programme Director
Marcella Veronesi

External reference
Marcella Veronesi

Publication date
March 5, 2015