Reducing the detrimental effect of identity voting: An experiment on intergroup coordination in China

Rebecca B. Morton, Kai Ou, Xiangdong Qin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A frequently mentioned impediment to intergroup coordination are pre-existing and long-standing divisions between voters along social and ethnic lines. While there are compelling discussions of the effects of identities on voting – focusing on either minimal group identities or naturally occurring identities – scholarly understanding of how to reduce the detrimental effect of identity voting remains limited. In this study, we compare the differential effects of payoff relevant minimal group identities and ethnic identities on intergroup coordination, and explore the effectiveness of repetition and communication on intergroup cooperation. We present findings from a series of experiments conducted in China with Tibetan and Han Chinese, with variations in the degree of identity salience and focality of the choices. We find that the naturally occurring ethnicities are indeed more salient than the minimal group identities. To a large extent, repetition and communication work to reduce the identity effects on voting, even when these effects are strongly reinforced by other identities. We find that conflicting multiple identities appear to be the most difficult to overcome in voter coordination games, but over time, we see that subjects achieve greater coordination through communication.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)320-331
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
    StatePublished - Jun 2020


    • Communication
    • Identities
    • Intergroup coordination
    • Lab-in-the-field experiment
    • Other-regarding choices
    • Repetition
    • Tibetan

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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