Anger, Exposure to Violence, and Intragroup Conflict: A “Lab in the Field” Experiment in Southern Israel


  • I would like to thank Andrew Bausch, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Jeremy Ginges, Guy Grossman, Eran Halperin, Rose McDermott, Rebecca Morton, Bradley Ruffle, and Alexandra Scacco for their input and help developing the project. Additionally I would like to thank Harel Anavim, Shirli Babad, and Ziv Ben Naim for their excellent research assistance. Finally, I would also like to especially thank my advisor, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita for financial support, without which this project would not have been completed.


I examine how anger stemming from violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict influences intragroup retaliation. In July 2010 I conducted a series of experiments in two cities in the Southern District of Israel affected to varying degrees (high and low) by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. For each experiment, subjects were partnered anonymously with a member of their community. They were then exposed to one of two emotional manipulations: one that induced anger or one that did not. Finally, each subject was given an opportunity to keep an endowment or allocate it towards destroying a portion, or all, of their partner's income (“pay to punish”) in retaliation for their partner having taken money from them previously. This decision to “pay to punish” was designed to closely mimic the costly nature of conflict. The findings suggest that anger has a conditional effect on decisions to pay to punish: in Sderot (most affected by rocket fire), anger decreases punishment, while in Ofakim (less affected), it increases punishment. Additionally, higher exposure to violence made subjects more likely to engage in negative reciprocity.