Family History and Attitudes Toward Outgroups: Evidence from the Syrian Refugee Crisis
45 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2018
Date Written: January 15, 2018
We examine how analogous thinking about family history affects outgroup bias. We provide evidence from Greece, a country that serves as an entry port to Europe for a large number of refugees and whose native population partly consists of descendants of ethnic Greeks who were forcibly relocated from Turkey in the early twentieth century. Combining historical and survey data with an experimental manipulation, we show that mentioning the parallels between past and present forced displacement leads to substantial increases in monetary donations and attitudinal measures of sympathy for refugees among respondents with forcibly displaced ancestors. This effect is also found among Greeks without a family history of forced migration, but only in places with a large historical concentration of Greek refugees from Turkey, where this historical experience is salient. Overall, our findings suggest that harnessing past experience can be an effective way of increasing empathy and reducing outgroup discrimination.
Keywords: asylum-seekers; forced displacement; perspective-taking; Asia Minor; Lausanne Treaty; xenophobia; family socialisation
JEL Classification: N43
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation