(Working papers, data, and materials might be available upon request. Please, feel free to contact me)
Alvarez-Benjumea, A. (2021). Uncovering Hidden Opinions: The Erosion of Norms and the Expression of Xenophobic Attitudes.
Abstract: Social norms against prejudice are widespread and generally supported by society, yet examples of bigotry are often found. I propose that anti-prejudice norms can easily erode when individuals are exposed to hate content, therefore facilitating the expression of prejudice. To test this, participants were invited to take part in a controlled online forum discussing immigration. I compare the comments of participants exposed to xenophobic content to those not exposed. The empirical results show that exposure to hateful content erode norm compliance: the more hateful content participants could observe, the more hateful their subsequent comments were. Furthermore, the effect is greater amongst those more likely to hold anti-immigrant views. This indicates an “emboldening effect” whereby in the absence of offensive speech, prejudiced citizens refrain from expressing prejudiced opinions. Otherwise, hidden attitudes are revealed. The results imply that the expression of prejudice is context-dependent. However, because norms can easily erode, the preservation of a “norm environment” requires sustained reinforcement of the norm.
Zhang, N., Alvarez-Benjumea, A., and Winter, F. (2021). Party Trumps Race: How Black, Hispanic and Asian Republicans React to Explicit Racial Rhetoric.
Abstract: As racial hostility has become increasingly evident within the Republican party in recent years, scholars and political observers are challenged to explain continued GOP support amongst segments of minority voters. Against this backdrop, we examine the racial attitudes of minorities within the Republican Party. Our research draws from a large-scale original survey measuring Americans’ reactions to racially-offensive speech. We find that Black, Hispanic and Asian respondents who identify with the GOP are consistently more tolerant of prejudice than their non-Republican counterparts, even with respect to statements targeting their “own” race. Further, in some instances, minority Republicans react similarly to White Republicans when presented with racially-hostile comments about other minorities. These patterns are largely consistent with accounts of social sorting and partisan influence which have been advanced to explain the political alignments of White Americans, and provide an explanation for why some minorities may choose to remain within the GOP despite its stance on racial issues.
Alvarez-Benjumea, A., Freund, L., Luckner, K., Winter, F. Public Signals as Coordination Devices: The Moderating Effect of Group Identity.
Abstract: Experiments on social norm intervention suggest that public information, which creates common knowledge, is more effective in increasing norm conformity than privately disseminated information, regardless of other factors affecting norm conformity, such as group identity. We present a theoretical model and an experimental test of the effect of the channel of dissemination (public vs. private) of a normative message under different levels of group identity on norm compliance in a public goods game with heterogeneous groups of actors. In the theoretical model, we derive an actor’s pecuniary and identity utility, as well as the conditions under which they will coordinate on a correlated equilibrium. In the experiment, we play a public goods game in which we provide the participants with a normative message about the fairness norm. The conditions vary between low/high group identity, and public/private information. We test the coordination on the provided fairness norm in each setting. To increase the strength of the test, we introduce heterogeneous endowments. This increases the number of alternative fairness norms on which coordination is feasible. Our results suggest that group identity increases norm compliance, while the public dissemination of normative information has no, or even negative, effects on norm compliance depending on the type of actor in question.
The effect of anomie in norm-compliance (together Winter, F.)
Tracking the Trump Effect (together with Winter, F. and Zhang, N.)