Discrimination in the Lab: Experiments Exploring the Impact of Performance and Appearance on Sorting and Cooperation

24 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2007

See all articles by Marco Castillo

Marco Castillo

Texas A&M University

Ragan Petrie

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics; University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research

Date Written: July 2006

Abstract

We present experimental evidence consistent with statistical discrimination in a public good and group formation game. We find that behavior is correlated with race and gender, and people use race and gender to predict behavior when no other information is available. When information on behavior is provided, people disregard personal characteristics completely. These characteristics are also disregarded when individual behavior is induced to break the correlation between characteristics and behavior. That is, people disregard race and gender even when observed behavior is unusual but relevant to payoffs. Finally, our experiments show that sorting into groups has dramatic implications on cooperation. Overall payoffs are higher when sorting is possible than when groups are randomly assigned. This only occurs, however, when personal characteristics are known. Higher payoffs are attained at the cost of an equitable distribution.

Suggested Citation

Castillo, Marco and Petrie, Ragan, Discrimination in the Lab: Experiments Exploring the Impact of Performance and Appearance on Sorting and Cooperation (July 2006). Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Research Paper Series No. 07-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=976043 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.976043

Marco Castillo (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University ( email )

5201 University Blvd.
College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.marcocastillo.org

Ragan Petrie

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

4228 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research ( email )

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
Parkville, Victoria 3010
Australia

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