In-Group Bias in Prison
42 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2018 Last revised: 2 Jan 2020
Date Written: December 15, 2019
We conducted a field experiment in a typical Chinese prison to examine the in-group bias of groups with a stigmatized identity. Inmates were given the opportunity to work for a charity. We found evidence of both pro-sociality and in-group favoritism among inmates. In particular, inmates increased effort when their output contributed to a charity, and worked even harder when the beneficiary of their efforts had a prisoner identity. However, inmates who had been in prison for a longer period exerted relatively less effort to help a prisoner beneficiary. This negative correlation was not observed when the beneficiary was an outsider. These findings highlight the importance of social interaction in the formation of in-group bias.
Keywords: In-group bias, Group identity, Social interaction, Pro-social preference, Field experiment
JEL Classification: C93, D64, D91, K14
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