In-group bias in prisons

Shiqi Guo, Pinghan Liang, Erte Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We conducted a field experiment in a typical Chinese prison to examine the in-group bias of groups with a stigmatized identity. Inmates were given the opportunity to work for a charity. We found evidence of both pro-sociality and in-group favoritism among inmates. In particular, inmates increased their efforts when their output contributed to a charity and worked even harder when the beneficiary of their efforts have a prisoner identity. However, inmates who have been in prisons for a longer period put in relatively less effort in helping a beneficiary who is a prisoner. This negative correlation was not observed when the beneficiary was an outsider. These findings highlight the importance of social interaction in the formation of in-group bias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-340
Number of pages13
JournalGames and Economic Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Field experiment
  • Group identity
  • In-group bias
  • Pro-social preference
  • Social interaction

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