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Social Norms in the Aftermath of Ethnic Violence - Ethnicity and Fairness in Non-costly Decision Making

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Sam Whitt
Publisher / Publication: 
Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58 (1): 93-119

This study considers prospects for the revitalization of social norms after ethnic violence using a behavioral experiment in postwar Bosnia.

In the experiment, subjects are asked to distribute a ten-unit monetary sum between two anonymous recipients of random ethnicity. The results indicate a surprisingly high number of egalitarian distributions across ethnicity, which is interpreted as evidence of a norm of fairness. Discriminating behavior in the experiment is explained as a product of ethnic parochialism (rewarding co-ethnics and punishing non-co-ethnics). Overall, the experiment speaks to the resiliency of an important aspect of pro-social behavior after violence—impartiality in the treatment of others.

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