Gender Discrimination by Contestants on The Price Is Right
Pavel Dimitrov Atanasov
University of Pennsylvania; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
Jason D. Dana
University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology
May 11, 2012
Claims of taste based discrimination are common but difficult to prove in the field. Furthermore, much of the research on discrimination focuses on evaluation. However, discriminatory patterns of competition, such as use of aggressive strategies based on opponents' gender, may produce similar discriminatory outcomes. We report evidence for discrimination using data from The Price Is Right television show, an environment that combines high stakes for making correct decisions with arbitrary assignment of players to groups. Analysis of over 3,900 games reveals that contestants are 19% more likely to use an efficient but aggressive strategy against opposite-gender opponents. In women, this bias appears to be driven by incorrect beliefs that men are better bidders. In men, the bias is traceable to increased competitiveness toward female bidders. Favorable treatment of same-gender opponents costs players an average of $193 in prize winnings across all games, increasing to $425 in the last game of the day. These results show that gender discrimination can persist in competitive environments where incentives strongly discourage it.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: gender discrimination, gender bias, game shows
JEL Classification: C72, D23, D31working papers series
Date posted: August 23, 2011 ; Last revised: January 19, 2013
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