April 2018

IZA DP No. 11460: Help, Prejudice and Headscarves

Luis Artavia-Mora, Arjun S. Bedi, Matthias Rieger

This paper employs a natural field experiment in the Netherlands to test whether individuals intuitively help strangers with different group identities. We implement time manipulations in an everyday task to stimulate intuitive versus deliberate decision-making and thereafter examine helpfulness towards a female stranger with in-group (native) or out-group (Muslim) appearance. We find that time delay decreases helping rates. In contrast, regardless of time manipulation, out-group appearance does not influence helping rates. Overall, subjects are intuitively predisposed to help, independent of identity. We discuss our findings with respect to the literature on in-group favoritism and the cognitive origins of human cooperation.