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Is it a norm to favour your own group?

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Harris, D 
Herrmann, B 
Newton, J 


This paper examines the relationship between norm enforcement and in-group favouritism behaviour. Using a new two-stage allocation experiment with punishments, we investigate whether in-group favouritism is considered as a social norm in itself or as a violation of a different norm, such as egalitarian norm. We find that which norm of behaviour is enforced depends on who the punisher is. If the punishers belong to the in-group, in-group favouritism is considered a norm and it does not get punished. If the punishers belong to the outgroup, in-group favouritism is frequently punished. If the punishers belong to no group and merely observe ingroup favouritism (the third-party), they do not seem to care sufficiently to be willing to punish this behaviour. Our results shed a new light on the effectiveness of altruistic norm enforcement when group identities are taken into account and help to explain why in-group favouritism is widespread across societies.



In-group favouritism, Group identity, Social norms, In-group punishment, Out-group punishment, Third-party punishment

Journal Title

Experimental Economics

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/I000208/1)