Globalization, Social Identity, and Cooperation: An Experimental Analysis of Their Linkages and Effects

Gianluca Grimalda, Nancy Buchan, Marilynn Brewer

Global Cooperation Research Papers 10, Duisburg 2015

Keywords: Globalization, social identity, cooperation, cosmopolitanism

DOI: 2198-0411-GCRP-10


Globalization is defined as an individual’s connectivity in global networks. Social identity is conceptualized as attachment and identification with a group. We use questionnaire items to measure individual involvement with global networks along with local, national, and global social identity. Propensity to cooperate is measured in experiments involving local and global others. Firstly, we analyse possible determinants of global social identity, showing a significant and positive correlation with an index of individual global connectivity. Secondly, we find a significant mediating effect of global social identity between individual global connectivity and propensity to cooperate at the global level. This is consistent with a cosmopolitan hypothesis of how participation in global networks reshapes social identity: increased participation in global networks increases global social identity and this in turn increases propensity to cooperate with others.

The Authors

Gianluca Grimalda is lecturer at the University Jaume I of Castelló de la Plana (Spain), research fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research (University of Duisburg-Essen) and at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. His research adopts experimental methodologies to study the interaction between individual behaviour and socio-economic structures. The topics he has analysed include globalisation, inter-personal co-operation and trust. His work has been published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), Psychological Science, and the Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

Nancy Buchan is the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs at the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Her research combines the methodology of experimental economics with theory from psychology, sociology and political science. Dr Buchan’s work has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, American Economic Review, American Journal of Sociology, Psychological Science, Journal of Consumer Research, and others.

Marilynn Brewer is professor emeritus of psychology at Ohio State University. She has served as President of the American Psychological Society and has been President of the Western Psychological Association, the Midwestern Psychological Association, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Her work has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Psychological Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and others.

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