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Cram, Laura; Moore, Adam; Olivieri, Victor; Süßenbach, Felix (2018): Fair Is Fair, or Is It? Territorial Identity Triggers Influence Ultimatum Game Behavior. In: Political Psychology, Vol. 39, No. 6: pp. 1233-1250
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Fairness perception underpins the concept of societal solidarity and is central to regime cohesion, collective identity, and popular legitimacy. The European Union faces challenges on all of these fronts. Perceptions of intergroup (un)fairness and of being "left behind," for example, provided much of the momentum behind the U.K. Brexit decision. Fairness perception is not, however, an objectively reliable measure. In/outgroup alignments, including race and even football team membership, have been shown experimentally to influence individuals' behavior in response to equally fair/unfair monetary offers, even when this behavior is economically irrational. We develop an experimental task, using an adapted ultimatum game design, to examine how this dynamic plays out in the context of multilevel territorial identity systems, such as the European Union (EU), where no straightforward territorial in/outgroup dynamic pertains. We discuss the implications of our findings for understanding complex social-identity effects in multilevel systems. We ask how our findings on differential perceptions of fairness might be built upon to help understand variable citizen perceptions of, for example, the Brexit process and of the outcomes secured by an individuals' "own side" in the negotiations and more generally in relation to psychological attachment to the EU.