Mothers, fathers, and others: Competition and cooperation in the aftermath of conflict

Alessandra Cassar, Pauline Grosjean, Fatima Jamal Khan, Miranda Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate the possibility that women and men have distinct behavioral reactions to victimization. We conducted an experiment to elicit preferences for in-group egalitarianism and individual competitiveness for a random sample of 751 individuals in Sierra Leone (aged 18–85) to contrast the behavioral consequences of victimization during the 1991–2003 civil war across sex and parental status. Our results show that mothers and fathers display the highest level of cooperation, yet conflict exposure does not affect them. Egalitarianism increases after victimization only among non-parents, with an effect stronger for males, who are the least egalitarian to start with. Conflict exposure tames everyone's competitive tendencies, but has the opposite effect for mothers, the least competitive group in the absence of conflict. Measures of competitiveness among 191 parents from Colombia show a similar pattern. Our results suggests that conflict, by closing sex and parental gaps in behavior, may prime individuals toward strategies that either benefit the group or the individual, depending on sex and parental role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-223
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Competitiveness
  • Cooperation
  • Egalitarianism
  • Gender
  • Prosociality
  • War


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