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Women Form Social Networks More Selectively and Less Opportunistically than Men

37 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2017  

Guido Friebel

Goethe University Frankfurt; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Marie Lalanne

Goethe University Frankfurt - Research Center SAFE

Bernard Richter

Goethe University Frankfurt

Peter Schwardmann

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Paul Seabright

University of Toulouse I - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: March 24, 2017

Abstract

We test two hypotheses, based on sexual selection theory, about gender differences in costly social interactions. Differential selectivity states that women invest less than men in interactions with new individuals. Differential opportunism states that women’s investment in social interactions is less responsive to information about the interaction’s payoffs. The hypotheses imply that women’s social networks are more stable and path dependent and composed of a greater proportion of strong relative to weak links. During their introductory week, we let new university students play an experimental trust game, first with one anonymous partner, then with the same and a new partner. Consistent with our hypotheses, we find that women invest less than men in new partners and that their investments are only half as responsive to information about the likely returns to the investment. Moreover, subsequent formation of students’ real social networks is consistent with the experimental results: being randomly assigned to the same introductory group has a much larger positive effect on women’s likelihood of reporting a subsequent friendship.

Keywords: Social Networks, Gender Differences, Trust Game

JEL Classification: C91, D81, J16

Suggested Citation

Friebel, Guido and Lalanne, Marie and Richter, Bernard and Schwardmann, Peter and Seabright, Paul, Women Form Social Networks More Selectively and Less Opportunistically than Men (March 24, 2017). SAFE Working Paper No. 168. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2940149

Guido Friebel

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Grüneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Marie Lalanne (Contact Author)

Goethe University Frankfurt - Research Center SAFE ( email )

(http://www.safe-frankfurt.de)
Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

Bernard Richter

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Grüneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany
06979834800 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.mm.uni-frankfurt.de/index.php?id=1439

Peter Schwardmann

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, Bavaria 80539
Germany

Paul Seabright

University of Toulouse I - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI) ( email )

Manufacture des Tabacs
21 Allee de Brienne bat. F
Toulouse Cedex, F-31000
France
+33 5 61 12 86 17 (Phone)
+33 5 61 12 86 37 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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