Seminário NOVAFRICA: Usar modelos para inspirar grupos marginalizados: Um conto de advertência

Na quarta-feira, dia 8 de maio, pelas 15h30 (hora de Lisboa), na sala D 005 do campus de Carcavelos da Nova SBE, o Centro NOVAFRICA recebe Gaia Narciso do Trinity College Dublin, para apresentar o seu trabalho sobre “Using role models to inspire marginalized groups: A cautionary tale”.

Role models are found to affect behavioral change in many different settings, increasing aspirations, savings, investment in children’s education as well as entrepreneurial activities. According to the psychology literature, role models show how to achieve a goal, they represent the possible and inspire (Morgenroth et al. 2015). Key to this process is the extent of identification between role models and role “aspirants”. But what happens when the social distance increases? Are role model interventions effective in communities vulnerable to shocks, remote from knowledge exchange, markets and policy-decision making, and polarized along ethnic dimensions? We present experimental evidence on the impact of a role model intervention to encourage ethnic minorities in Vietnam to start businesses and diversify income sources, distinguishing between relatable ethnic minority role models and ethnic majority role models. This setting allows us to investigate the effect of increasing the social distance from role models while keeping the information content constant. The study’s design allows observing attendees’ and households’ behavior, an aspect that is particularly relevant in a context in which production, consumption and investment decisions are taken at the household level. Indeed, this perspective provides one of the key takeaways of this study. We find that while the aspirations component of the role models is important to induce behavioral change, the information itself, disjoint from the identification in the role model, might be more relevant for individuals to make the right choices. Our findings provide a cautionary tale: individuals’ decisions concerning income diversification need to be studied in the context of the household’s ability to weather negative shocks.

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