Research


Job market paper:
Queen Bee Immigrant: The Effects of Status Perceptions on Immigration Attitudes; Working Paper

This work examines a seemingly counter-intuitive phenomenon observed in many Western democracies, whereby parts of the immigrant population oppose new waves of immigration. I propose a mechanism based on group status distribution that, complementarily to other considerations, can help to explain these preferences. I hypothesize that relative status deprivation, that is, the degree to which a given national/ethnic group is ranked low in the ethnic status hierarchy of the host country, has a negative impact on the attitudes that the members of this group have towards even lower-ranked groups. In the experiment, run with a sample of participants with an immigration background residing in Germany (N=1,159), I manipulate participants’ status perceptions by providing them with either a positive or a negative evaluation of their national/ethnic in-group, as evaluated by a separate group of native-majority (German) participants. The results show that exposing participants to a negative evaluation of their in-group leads them to express more negative views of the refugees from the Middle East and to significantly decrease their willingness to donate to an organization supporting refugees, while not altering their generosity towards other same- or higher-status out-groups. I examine several possible channels and provide evidence that suggests that the treatment effect works through manipulating participants’ perceived norms surrounding prejudice expression towards low-status groups.
Finally, the results show that treatment affects not only the privately held attitudes but also participants’ willingness to publicly express them, as participants holding critical views of the refugees disclose them more readily when under observation of the native-majority participants if they received a negative (rather than positive) evaluation of their in-group.


The influence premium of monetary rank, with Andrea F. M. Martinangeli; Working paper (under revision)

The transmission of adaptively valuable behaviours requires successful individuals to exert greater influence on others’ actions. Hierarchical social organisations ease the recognition of successful, higher-ranked individuals in a group and hence facilitate this process. We investigate whether purely monetary rank, defined exclusively in terms of the amount of resources held by an individual, is capable, in isolation of any other intervening mechanism, to grant greater influence over others’ choices. Among a representative sample of the German population, we find that high monetary rank grants individuals greater influence over others’ actions.


Productivity Shocks and Conflict: The Role of Loss Aversion; Working Paper

This paper studies the consequences of productivity shocks on conflict behavior in the presence of loss aversion. In a first step, I incorporate expectation based loss preferences a la KĹ‘szegi and Rabin (2006, 2007) into a Hirshleifer-Skaperdas conflict game and show that negative productivity shocks entail higher conflict investments if agents are loss averse (and lower investments if agents are gain-seeking); the reverse holds in case of a positive productivity shock. In a second step, a lab experiment (N=496) was conducted with participants playing repeated guns-and-butter conflict game under changing productivity regimes. The experimental results reveal that while adverse productivity shocks (channeled through loss aversion) have the predicted effects, positive productivity shocks lead to the predicted increase in conflict investment among gain-seeking but fail to reduce conflict investment among loss-averse participants. Furthermore, absent any changes in productivity level, conflict investments are shown to increase in the level of loss aversion.


Wins and losses in collective actions: Evidence from the field, with Raisa Sherif; AEA Registry

Global warming, deforestation, destruction of wildlife, etc. – all represent problems which require coordination on a global level to be successfully resolved. At the same time, they also have their representation on a smaller scale (e.g. on a local level). We run a field experiment with school children in India to study whether the experience of participation in a small-scale collective action affects the willingness to contribute in a related but larger collective action. Particularly, we are interested in the motivational and demotivational effects of having achieved a “small win” or having failed to do so, on scaling-up the collective effort and the relative magnitude of these effects. Furthermore, we investigate whether success (failure) in the smaller scale collective action has heterogeneous effects on participants with different initial propensity to contribute.