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Group Identity in Intermediated Interactions: Lessons from a Trust Game with Delegation in South Africa

Experimental Economics and Culture

ISBN: 978-1-78743-820-0, eISBN: 978-1-78743-819-4

Publication date: 14 December 2018


We investigate the role of group identity in delegated decision-making. Our framework considers the impact of group identity (based on racial segregation in post-Apartheid South Africa) on decisions to appoint a representative in a trust game with delegated decision-making, where information on the race group of other players is either common or private knowledge. We test our framework experimentally on a sample of young South Africans who had never been exposed to experimental economics research. By exogenously matching parties according to their race group, we observe their endogenous trust and delegation behavior. Our results suggest that white players try to use information about group identity to increase profits, albeit unsuccessfully. This may help to explain distrust and coordination failures observed in real-life interactions.




We thank computer lab manager Mishwell Mathebula for his repeated technological support in conducting our experiment, and gratefully acknowledge funding by the Max Planck Society. We also thank the editor and four anonymous referees, as well as Amalia Álvarez Benjumea, Brian Cooper, Christoph Engel, Lars Freund, Oliver Kirchkamp, Don Ross and Alex Zimper for helpful feedback.


Hamann, H. and Nicholls, N. (2018), "Group Identity in Intermediated Interactions: Lessons from a Trust Game with Delegation in South Africa", Experimental Economics and Culture (Research in Experimental Economics, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 227-264.



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