Why do we Discriminate? The Role of Motivated Reasoning

54 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2022

See all articles by Markus Eyting

Markus Eyting

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz; Heidelberg University; Stanford University

Date Written: August 2022


Identifying the cause of discrimination is crucial to design effective policies and to understand discrimination dynamics. Building on traditional models, this paper introduces a new explanation for discrimination: discrimination based on motivated reasoning. By systematically acquiring and processing information, individuals form motivated beliefs and consequentially discriminate based on these beliefs. Through a series of experiments, I show the existence of discrimination based on motivated reasoning and demonstrate important differences to statistical discrimination and taste-based discrimination. Finally, I demonstrate how this form of discrimination can be alleviated by limiting individuals’ scope to interpret information.

Keywords: discrimination, belief formation, motivated reasoning

JEL Classification: D90, J71, D83

Suggested Citation

Eyting, Markus, Why do we Discriminate? The Role of Motivated Reasoning (August 2022). SAFE Working Paper No. 356, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4210315 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4210315

Markus Eyting (Contact Author)

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz ( email )

Saarstr. 21
Jakob Welder-Weg 4
Mainz, 55122

Heidelberg University ( email )

Grabengasse 1
Heidelberg, 69117

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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