Racial Bias in the Sharing Economy and the Role of Trust and Self-Congruence

59 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2019 Last revised: 7 Feb 2021

See all articles by Katrine Berg Nødtvedt

Katrine Berg Nødtvedt

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Strategy and Management

Hallgeir Sjåstad

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Strategy and Management

Siv Skard

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)

Helge Thorbjørnsen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Strategy and Management

Jay Van Bavel

New York University (NYU) - Department of Psychology

Date Written: February 7, 2021

Abstract

The rise of peer-to-peer platforms has represented one of the major economic and societal developments observed in the last decade. We investigated whether people engage in racial discrimination in the sharing economy, and how such discrimination might be explained and mitigated. Using a set of carefully controlled experiments (N = 1,599), including a pre-registered study on a nationally representative sample, we find causal evidence for racial discrimination. When an identical Airbnb apartment is presented with a racial out-group (vs. in-group) host, people report more negative attitudes towards the apartment, lower intentions to rent it, and are 25% less likely to choose the apartment over a standard hotel room in an incentivized choice. Reduced self-congruence with apartments owned by out-group hosts mediates these effects. Left-leaning liberals rated the out-group host as more trustworthy than the in-group host in non-committing judgments and hypothetical choice, but showed the same in-group preference as right-leaning conservatives when making a real choice. Thus, people may overstate their moral and political aspirations when doing so is cost-free. However, even in incentivized choice, racial discrimination disappeared when the apartment was presented with an explicit trust cue, as a visible top-rating by other consumers (5/5 stars).

Keywords: sharing economy, discrimination, trust

Suggested Citation

Berg Nødtvedt, Katrine and Sjåstad, Hallgeir and Skard, Siv and Thorbjørnsen, Helge and Van Bavel, Jay, Racial Bias in the Sharing Economy and the Role of Trust and Self-Congruence (February 7, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3434463 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3434463

Katrine Berg Nødtvedt (Contact Author)

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Strategy and Management ( email )

Breiviksveien 40
N-5045 Bergen
Norway

Hallgeir Sjåstad

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Strategy and Management ( email )

Breiviksveien 40
N-5045 Bergen
Norway

Siv Skard

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)

Helleveien 30
Bergen, NO-5045
Norway

Helge Thorbjørnsen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Strategy and Management

Breiviksveien 40
N-5045 Bergen
Norway

Jay Van Bavel

New York University (NYU) - Department of Psychology ( email )

New York, NY 10003
United States

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