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A&E seminar

November 07, 12:45 pm - 2:15 pm, 15.1.39

Categories: A&E seminar

Sandra Polanía-Reyes

(University of Navarra)


“Overcoming empathy failures to reduce inequality: Experimental evidence from Colombia”


In recent years, Latin America and the Caribbean has faced a wave of six million migrants from Venezuela, three million of them entering Colombia. The migration crisis adds to the demographic shock stemming from internally displaced people (IDPs), former FARC combatants and paramilitaries rejoining civilian life. The urge to ensure basic welfare conditions for migrants is mediated by the challenge of integration into a society that sees them as outsiders.

Although prosocial behavior is understood as key for development, little is known about the role of prosocial behavior in the presence of conflict between groups and inequality. The effectiveness of prosocial behavior can be enhanced by three channels: ingroup member beliefs that outgroup members are willing and able to integrate, reductions in prejudice or increases in empathy. We implement a lab-in-the-field experiment with a representative sample in the main Colombian regions to measure the benefit of two 5-minute media interventions on prosocial behavior (i.e. altruism, trust, and preferences for redistribution) towards four groups: Venezuelan migrants, former combatants, internally displaced people and the very poor.

Unlike other similar edutainment interventions, ours are grounded on social psychology theory and evidence. Thus, the mechanism is not priming but actual information and learning to lower psychosocial barriers (beliefs, prejudice and empathy). We show that exposure to the media interventions humanizes FARC ex-combatants and IDPs, affecting both attitudes (e.g., support for inclusive policies) and prosocial behavior toward both groups. The robust effects of our intervention inform the policy design and thus accelerate the integration of the migrant population into their host communities.

Face-to-face Seminar – Room 15.1.39