Social Identity and Social Free-Riding

34 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2015 Last revised: 18 Jan 2016

See all articles by Mark Bernard

Mark Bernard

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics

Florian Hett

Goethe University Frankfurt - Department of Management and Applied Microeconomics

Mario Mechtel

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Date Written: October 31, 2015

Abstract

We model individual identification choice as a strategic group formation problem. When choosing a social group to identify with, individuals appreciate high social status and a group stereotype to which they have a small social distance. A group's social status and stereotype are shaped by the (exogenous) individual attributes of its members and hence endogenous to individuals' choices. Unless disutility from social distance is strong enough, this creates a strategic tension as individuals with attributes that contribute little to group status would like to join high-status groups, thereby diluting the latters' status and changing stereotypes. Such social free-riding motivates the use of soft exclusion technologies in high-status groups, which provides a unifying rationale for phenomena such as hazing rituals, charitable activities or status symbols that is not taste-based or follows a standard signaling mechanism.

Keywords: social identity, social status, social distance, categorization, group formation

JEL Classification: D1, C7

Suggested Citation

Bernard, Mark and Hett, Florian and Mechtel, Mario, Social Identity and Social Free-Riding (October 31, 2015). European Economic Review, Forthcoming; IAAEU Working Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2702770 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2702770

Mark Bernard

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 6501
Sveavagen 65
S-113 83 Stockholm
Sweden

Florian Hett (Contact Author)

Goethe University Frankfurt - Department of Management and Applied Microeconomics ( email )

Germany

Mario Mechtel

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststra├če 1
Wilschenbrucher Weg 69
L├╝neburg, 21335
Germany
+4941316772636 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.mario-mechtel.de

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