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Exclusion and Cooperation in Diverse Societies: Experimental Evidence from Israel

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 July 2018

Harvard University
Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Princeton University
Ryan D. Enos is a Professor of Government, Department of Government, Harvard University, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (
Noam Gidron is a Research Fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University and an Assistant Professor of Political Science, Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem (


It is well-established that in diverse societies, certain groups prefer to exclude other groups from power and often from society entirely. Yet as many societies are diversifying at an increasingly rapid pace, the need for cross-group cooperation to solve collective action problems has intensified. Do preferences for exclusion inhibit the ability of individuals to cooperate and, therefore, diminish the ability for societies to collectively provide public goods? Turning to Israel, a society with multiple overlapping and politically salient cleavages, we use a large-scale lab-in-the-field design to investigate how preferences for exclusion among the Jewish majority predict discriminatory behavior toward Palestinian Citizens of Israel. We establish that preferences for exclusion are likely symbolic attitudes, and therefore stable and dominating of other attitudes; are held especially strongly by low-status majority group members; and powerfully predict costly non-cooperation. This preferences/behavior relationship appears unaffected by mitigating factors proposed in the intergroup relations literature. The demonstrated influence of symbolic attitudes on behavior calls for further examination of the social roots of exclusionary preferences.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2018 

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Both authors contributed equally. Support for this research was provided by the Harvard Center for Jewish Studies, the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard University. A previous version of this article was presented at the 2017 Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting and the 2017 Toronto Political Behaviour Workshop. We thank Stanley Feldman and Eric Arias for comments and Riley Carney and Alexander Sahn for additional assistance. Replication files are available at the American Political Science Review Dataverse:



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