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Social Norms in the Aftermath of Ethnic Violence: Ethnicity and Fairness in Non-costly Decision Making

Journal of Conflict Resolution

Published online on


This study considers prospects for the revitalization of social norms after ethnic violence using a behavioral experiment in postwar Bosnia. In the experiment, subjects are asked to distribute a ten-unit monetary sum between two anonymous recipients of random ethnicity. The results indicate a surprisingly high number of egalitarian distributions across ethnicity, which is interpreted as evidence of a norm of fairness. Discriminating behavior in the experiment is explained as a product of ethnic parochialism (rewarding co-ethnics and punishing non-co-ethnics). Overall, the experiment speaks to the resiliency of an important aspect of pro-social behavior after violence—impartiality in the treatment of others.