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Is It How You Look or Speak That Matters? - An Experimental Study Exploring the Mechanisms of Ethnic Discrimination

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Author Info

  • Rödin, Magnus

    ()
    (Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS)

  • Özcan, Gülay

    ()
    (Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS)

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    Abstract

    Using a unique laboratory experiment where subjects are asked to guess the test performance of candidates presented by facial portraits and voice messages, this paper explores the following questions: Are beliefs about performance affected by if a candidate is perceived to have looks that are non-stereotypical for the dominant population and do these beliefs change if the candidate has native-like versus accented speech? The experiment is conducted in Sweden and the results show that candidates not perceived as stereotypically Swedish are considered to be worse performers. These beliefs are found in within-gender but not in cross-gender evaluations and are not eliminated when additional performance-related information about the candidates is provided. When candidates are presented by both looks and speech, differential evaluations based on looks disappear. Instead, we find strong negative beliefs about performance for candidates that speak Swedish with a foreign accent implying that ethnic stereotypes associated with speech override stereotypes associated with appearance. The negative beliefs associated with foreign-accented speech are not supported by corresponding mean differences in the candidates’ actual test performance.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS in its series SULCIS Working Papers with number 2011:3.

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    Length: 51 pages
    Date of creation: 04 Apr 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:sulcis:2011_003

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    Postal: Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden
    Web page: http://www.su.se/sulcis
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    Related research

    Keywords: Experiment; Appearance; Speech; Beliefs; Performance; Stereotypes;

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    1. Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2010. "Why Beauty Matters," Staff General Research Papers 32112, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    2. Davis, Douglas D., 1987. "Maximal quality selection and discrimination in employment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 97-112, March.
    3. Åslund, Olof & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2007. "Do anonymous job application procedures level the playing field?," Working Paper Series 2007:31, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
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    5. David Dickinson & Ronald Oaxaca, 2005. "Statistical Discrimination in Labor Markets: An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 05-11, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
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    8. John List, 2004. "The nature and extent of discrimination in the marketplace: Evidence from the field," Natural Field Experiments 00299, The Field Experiments Website.
    9. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Jeff E. Biddle, 1993. "Beauty and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Castillo, Marco & Petrie, Ragan, 2010. "Discrimination in the lab: Does information trump appearance?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 50-59, January.
    11. Heshmati, Almas & Maasoumi, Esfandiar, 1998. "Stochastic Dominance Amongst Swedish Income Distributions," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 279, Stockholm School of Economics.
    12. Arai, Mahmood & Bursell, Moa & Nekby, Lena, 2008. "Between Meritocracy and Ethnic Discrimination: The Gender Difference," IZA Discussion Papers 3467, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Bouckaert, Jan & Dhaene, Geert, 2004. "Inter-ethnic trust and reciprocity: results of an experiment with small businessmen," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 869-886, November.
    14. Chris Papageorgiou & Nick Feltovich, . "An Experimental Study of Statistical Discrimination by Employers," Departmental Working Papers 2001-07, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    15. Ali M. Ahmed & Lina Andersson & Mats Hammarstedt, 2010. "Can Discrimination in the Housing Market Be Reduced by Increasing the Information about the Applicants?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 86(1), pages 79-90.
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