Multidimensional social identity and redistributive preferences: an experimental study

Fuhai HONG*, Yohanes E. RIYANTO, Ruike ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Social identity is embedded in social structures, generated by various social processes, and has multiple dimensions. We report findings from a laboratory experiment eliciting two-dimensional social identities: a horizontal identity determined either randomly or by preferences and a vertical identity defined by income status and determined either by luck or performance. We also vary income gaps between vertical identity groups. Participants make redistributive allocation decisions between two beneficiaries differing in identity attributes. We find robust evidence of in-group favoritism and that both the identity distance between the allocator and the in-group recipient and income gaps influence the degree of in-group favoritism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-184
Number of pages34
JournalTheory and Decision
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank two anonymous referees and seminar and conference participants at Nanyang Technological University, NUS Behavioral and Experimental Economics Reading Group, the 5th Annual Xiamen University International Workshop on Experimental Economics, 2016 ESA European Meeting (Bergen), 2016 North-American ESA Conference (Tucson), 2018 ESA World Meeting (Berlin), and 2019 WEAI International Conference (Tokyo) for helpful comments. We acknowledge financial support from the Singapore MOE Academic Research Fund Tier 1 Grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Horizontal and vertical identity attributes
  • In-group favoritism
  • Income inequality
  • Redistributive allocation
  • Social identities

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