Theme 1: Causes of Conflict
Temperature and Out-group Discrimination
Participating Members: Danny Choi (Pittsburgh), Mathias Poertner (Texas A&M), and Nicholas Sambanis (Penn)
High temperatures have been linked to aggression and different forms of conflict in humans. We consider whether exposure to heat waves increases discriminatory behavior toward outgroups. Using data from two large-scale field experiments in Germany, we find a direct causal effect of exposure to heat shocks on discrimination in helping behavior. As temperature rises, German natives faced with a choice to provide help to strangers in every-day interactions help Muslim immigrants less than they do other German natives, while help rates toward natives are unaffected by temperature. This finding suggests that there may be a physiological basis for discriminatory behavior toward outgroups..
Parochialism, Social Norms, and Discrimination against Immigrant Minorities in Europe
Participating Members: Danny Choi (Penn), Mathias Poertner (UC Berkeley), and Nicholas Sambanis (Penn)
As cross-border immigration increases due to economic globalization, wars, and climate change, there is more interaction between host and immigrant populations and more potential for inter-group conflict due to ethnic and religious differences. To reduce inter-group conflict, policymakers have emphasized the need to better integrate immigrants in host societies, so as to forge a common set of rules and norms concerning the boundaries of appropriate behavior. We provide real-word experimental evidence from Germany that ethno-religious differences cause bias and discrimination in everyday interactions between host and immigrant groups. We also show that cultural integration signaled through immigrants’ enforcement of local norms reduces, but does not eliminate, bias. An implication of our findings is that, as long as public debates and policies heighten the importance of ethno-religious markers, cultural integration will not be able to eliminate inter-group conflict.