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Competition, Social Identity, and Antisocial Behavior

On The October 26, 2015

Julien Benistant

Abstract :

Competitive incentives lead individuals to work harder but they can also sometimes motivate people to exert sabotage or to cheat at the expense of the company or of their colleagues. It remains however unclear how, in this context, social identity affects behavior and efficiency. On the one hand, fraternization among co-workers sharing the same identity and team-spirit can reduce the risk of sabotage but encourage rivalry. On the other hand group identity may reinforce competitiveness and anti-social behavior when individuals are matched with out-groups. It is unclear whether the two effects offset each other or not.

In our recent project we test the effect of social identity on two antisocial behaviors, cheating and sabotage in a 2-player Tullock lottery contest with a real-effort task. We compare two treatments, in which we form or not social identity. In the presence of group identity, we test whether people adjust their sabotage and cheating behavior to the identity of their competitor. Preliminary results suggest that identity does not have on effect on these antisocial behaviors.