“Us” And “Them”: Prosocial Attitudes Between Refugees and Host Communities Exposed to Armed Conflict: Experimental Evidence from Northern Uganda

We examine prosocial attitudes between refugees and host communities exposed to armed conflict and living in close proximity in Northern Uganda. By conducting trust and dictator games in the field, we test if there are in-group preferences or parochialism regarding trust, trustworthiness and altruism and whether parochial tendencies change with remoteness. We find that refugees show out-group preferences for reciprocating trust and altruism with increasing remoteness from district headquarters while members of the host communities show parochial preferences for trust although this changes with increasing remoteness. Refugees also do not perceive that their partners might expect them to discriminate along social identities of being refugee or host while hosts believe that their partners expect them to show parochial preferences. We conclude that refugees do not consider the social differentiation of “us refugees” and “them host” in their interactions as much as hosts do particularly in areas remote from urban areas which offer opportunities for increased interactions. The results are crucial to the policy arena in humanitarian contexts where concerns for the assistance of the vulnerable displaced people are high.