Violent Conflict and Parochial Trust: Lab-in-the-Field and Survey Evidence

83 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2022 Last revised: 15 Mar 2024

See all articles by Katharina Werner

Katharina Werner

University of Cologne; University of Passau

Ahmed Skali

University of Groningen

Date Written: December 22, 2023


How does conflict exposure affect trust? We hypothesize that direct (firsthand) experience with conflict induces parochialism: trust towards out-groups worsens, but trust towards in-groups, owing to positive experiences of kin solidarity, may improve. Indirect exposure to conflict through third-party accounts, on the other hand, reduces trust toward everyone, owing to negativity bias. We find
consistent support for our hypotheses in a lab-in-the-field experiment in Maluku, Indonesia, which witnessed a salient Christian-Muslim conflict during 1999-2002, as well as in three cross-country datasets exploiting temporal and spatial variation in exposure to violence. Our results help resolve a seeming contradiction in the literature and inform policies on resolving conflicts.

Keywords: Trust, conflict, direct exposure, indirect exposure, religion, discrimination

JEL Classification: C93, D74, Z12, Z13

Suggested Citation

Werner, Katharina and Skali, Ahmed, Violent Conflict and Parochial Trust: Lab-in-the-Field and Survey Evidence (December 22, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Katharina Werner (Contact Author)

University of Cologne ( email )

Cologne, 50923

University of Passau ( email )

Innstrasse 27
Passau, 94032

Ahmed Skali

University of Groningen ( email )

P.O. Box 800
9700 AH Groningen, Groningen 9700 AV

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