Volha Charnysh, Christopher Lucas, and Prerna Singh. 2015. “The Ties that Bind: National Identity Salience and Pro-Social Behavior Toward the Ethnic Other.” Comparative Political Studies, 48, 3, Pp. 267–300.
At the psychological level, ethnic conflict can be seen as an extreme result of normal group identification processes. Bridging perceived intergroup boundaries is therefore key to improving intergroup relations. In contrast to the dominant association of nationalism with racism, chauvinism, xenophobia, and intolerance, we highlight the constructive potential of national identification. In a survey experiment, we find that the increased salience of a shared (Indian) national identity increases donations by members of a dominant ethnic group (Hindus) to members of a rival, minority group (Muslims). This effect is moderated by social status (caste). We suggest that national identification leads to a greater transformation in the behavior of low-status members of an ethnic group because they are more likely to be drawn to national identity as an enhancement of their social standing. Our study has implications for theories of social identity and interethnic cooperation, as well as for the literature on nationalism.