Exclusion and Cooperation in Diverse Societies: Experimental Evidence from Israel
by Ryan D. Enos, Harvard University and Noam Gidron, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Princeton University
It is well-established that in diverse societies, certain groups prefer to exclude other groups from power and often from society entirely. Yet as many societies are diversifying at an increasingly rapid pace, the need for cross-group cooperation to solve collective action problems has intensified. Do preferences for exclusion inhibit the ability of individuals to cooperate and, therefore, diminish the ability for societies to collectively provide public goods? Turning to Israel, a society with multiple overlapping and politically salient cleavages, we use a large-scale lab-in-the-field design to investigate how preferences for exclusion among the Jewish majority predict discriminatory behavior toward Palestinian Citizens of Israel. We establish that preferences for exclusion are likely symbolic attitudes, and therefore stable and dominating of other attitudes; are held especially strongly by low-status majority group members; and powerfully predict costly non-cooperation. This preferences/behavior relationship appears unaffected by mitigating factors proposed in the intergroup relations literature. The demonstrated influence of symbolic attitudes on behavior calls for further examination of the social roots of exclusionary preferences.