Attribution Bias in Major Decisions: Evidence from the United States Military Academy

56 Pages Posted: 21 May 2019

See all articles by Kareem Haggag

Kareem Haggag

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Richard Patterson

United States Military Academy; Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management

Nolan Pope

University of Maryland

Aaron Feudo

United States Military Academy, West Point

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Abstract

Using administrative data, we study the role of attribution bias in a high-stakes, consequential decision: the choice of a college major. Specifically, we examine the influence of fatigue experienced during exposure to a general education course on whether students choose the major corresponding to that course. To do so, we exploit the conditional random assignment of student course schedules at the United States Military Academy. We find that students who are assigned to an early morning (7:30 AM) section of a general education course are roughly 10% less likely to major in that subject, relative to students assigned to a later time slot for the course. We find similar effects for fatigue generated by having one or more back-to-back courses immediately prior to a general education course that starts later in the day. Finally, we demonstrate that the pattern of results is consistent with attribution bias and difficult to reconcile with competing explanations.

Keywords: attribution bias, major choice, higher education

JEL Classification: D91, I23, J24

Suggested Citation

Haggag, Kareem and Patterson, Richard and Pope, Nolan and Feudo, Aaron, Attribution Bias in Major Decisions: Evidence from the United States Military Academy. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12174. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3390161

Kareem Haggag

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Richard Patterson (Contact Author)

United States Military Academy ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY 10996
United States
(435) 640-9054 (Phone)

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States
(435) 640-9054 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/richpattersoncornell/

Nolan Pope

University of Maryland

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

Aaron Feudo

United States Military Academy, West Point ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY 10996
United States

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