Own-gender favoritism in high stakes decisions: Taste-based discrimination on the Price is Right
27 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2021
Date Written: December 1, 2021
Evidence of gender discrimination has been found in a variety of contexts, but identifying the mechanism of discrimination is notoriously difficult. Discriminatory behavior could reflect a preference for treating one group differently than another, or it could reflect beliefs about average group differences. We identify a preference for costly gender homophily in a field setting that allows for remarkably clean identification of tastes versus beliefs: the One Bid game on the American TV game show The Price Is Right. In the One Bid game, contestants bid sequentially in an attempt to come closest to the retail price of an item without exceeding it. The last bidder has a dominant "cutoff'' strategy of bidding $1 more than the bidder they believe is currently in the lead, regardless of the skills or characteristics of that person. Cutoff bids are profitable for the last bidder, but leave the targeted contestant almost no chance to win. Our analysis of 11,016 One Bid games shows that last bidders of both genders are significantly more likely to cut off perceived leaders when they are of the opposite gender. We find no evidence that contestants hold incorrect gender stereotypes about skill. Our findings suggest that people display own-gender favoritism that cannot be explained by recourse to any set of beliefs and that outweigh substantial monetary stakes for being impartial.
Keywords: gender discrimination, taste-based discrimination, game show, gender homophily, stereotypes
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