The World on One Island: Formation and Deployment of Group Membership in Multi-Identity Societies

  • 12 Feb 2019

    13:30-14:30, CESS Seminar Rooms, 3 George Street Mews

  • CESS Colloquium   Add to Calendar
Speaker: Dominik Duell

University of Essex

This event is part of the Centre for Experimental Social Sciences Colloquium series.


We propose to implement a lab-in-the-field study on the island of Malekula, Vanuatu, to investigate cooperation within a heterogeneous society. Vanuatu, per capita the most linguistically diverse country on earth, provides a perfect case in multiculturalism featuring unique variation in regional, tribal, religious, and linguistic group markers but a high degree of homogeneity in other socio-economic determinants of human behaviour.

Building on extensive ethnographic work, we adapt standard behavioural games to the specifics of the field site allowing for novel insights on multiple competing identities, research that is only possible in such a society where not only multiple identities exist but where they also matter differently in different contexts. To this end, we elicit with whom individuals prefer to interact, their choices, and their beliefs about others' behaviour while varying the salience of one or another of the existing multi-level identities. While Vanuatu represents a rather unique environment, inferences from a society where diversity is enshrined in various aspects of life will be crucial to understanding the effects of identities in a more and more diverse world.

The colloquia are organised by the Centre for Experimental Social Sciences