HKS Affiliated Authors


October 22, 2022, Paper: "We examine the causes and consequences of an important cultural and psychological trait: the extent to which one views the world in zero-sum terms. We implement a survey among approximately 15,000 individuals living in the United States that measures zero-sum thinking, one’s political and policy views, and a rich set of characteristics about their ancestry. We find that a more zero-sum view about how benefits to one person or group tend to come at the cost of others is strongly correlated with a host of policy views about the importance of government, the value of redistributive policies, the value of immigration, and one’s political orientation. We find that zero-sum thinking can be explained by experiences of an individual’s ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents), including the amount of intergenerational upward mobility experienced, whether they immigrated to the United States, and whether they were ever enslaved."