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Identity in multicultural society

The project experimentally investigates the role of identity in shaping preferences and attitudes. A multidimensional definition of identity informs the work, with specific attention to differences between natives and immigrants. At this aim, we run a lab-in-the-field study among 300 young schoolboys (6th-8th grade) in two middle schools in Bologna (Italy). For pupils coming from immigrant families, identity is likely to be a composite pattern of elements drawn from the parents’ country of origin (ethnic markers) and elements from the host country. The main goal of the project is to analyze how cooperation between individuals can be encouraged by making salient a unitary identity (e.g. living in the same city) rather than a fragmentary one (e.g. ethnicity). In particular, the participants play a cooperation game in groups, which are randomly assigned to a priming stage that makes salient either a common, a fragmented or a neutral identity. Moreover, we elicit, in an incentive compatible way, students’ level of generosity. We would like to test the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic through a pre-post analysis on our measure of generosity, controlling for the composition of the network of friends and students’ self-perception. Since we expect the effects to be heterogeneous between immigrants and natives, and/or across the socio-economic background of the students, we will also test this hypothesis using the information collected through the post-experimental questionnaire. The main contribution of this extension is to understand how generosity change as a consequence of an epidemic, and how this health shock affects pre-existing inequalities in this preference, across specific socio-economic groups.

Lead investigator:

Natalia Montinari


University of Bolgona

Primary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

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Unit of real-time data collection