Using Discourse to Incentivize Cooperation in Arab-Muslim Culture: Experimental Evidence from Egypt

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Online via Zoom
@ 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm

Mazen Hassan, Professor of Comparative Politics at Cairo University, will discuss two questions: how could high contributors to public goods be encouraged to sustain their contributions against a defecting crowd? Second, how can low contributors be lured to increase their contributions without expensive institutional interventions or major structural transformations?

To answer these questions, we conduct two public good experiments with 276 participants in Egypt. In the first experiment, we find that priming high cooperators with a message that makes them take pride in being among the minority of cooperators increases contributions, albeit with a lagged effect. In the second experiment, we test how far any of three possible punishment messages – emphasizing religious, patriotic, or social harm discourse – drives low cooperators to increase their contributions. We show that using such punishment messages increases contributions significantly. Many of our findings indicate, however, that discourse interacts with dominant cultural traits – most notably the psychology of honor – which makes particular discourses have backfire effects for particular participants.

Watch the recording here