What happens to people’s cooperative behavior when they experience discrimination? The idea that discrimination might affect behavior is no stretch; persistent experience of discrimination has, after all, been linked to serious health conditions, substantial disparities in schooling and differential treatment within criminal justice systems. In my research on the link between discrimination and cooperation among the Roma in Slovenia, I have found that Roma who report having experienced discrimination are much less likely to engage in cooperative behavior. This points to yet another pernicious consequence of discrimination, which further harms not only the individual discriminated against, but also hurts the community and the group as a whole.
The Roma, also known derogatively as “Gypsies”, make up the largest ethnic minority in Europe. Historically, the Roma have been variously enslaved, deported, forcibly assimilated and subjected to genocide. While many Roma have integrated into their respective majority populations, most remain segregated and face widespread discrimination and substantial social disadvantages. Roma often live without essential utilities like electricity or sewerage, typically receive substandard health care, face significant barriers in accessing education and employment, and are frequently considered not to deserve social welfare. The Roma have been socially excluded for generations, and continue to be so today.
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