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Categorical Cognition: A Psychological Model of Categories and Identification in Decision Making

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  • Roland G. Fryer, Jr.
  • Matthew O. Jackson

Abstract

There is a wealth of research in psychology demonstrating that agents process information with the aid of categories. In this paper we study this phenomenon in two parts. First, we build a model of how experiences are sorted into categories and how categorization affects decision making. Second, we analyze the personal biases that result from categorization, in economic contexts. We show that discrimination can result from such cognitive processes even when there is no malevolent taste to do so and workers' qualifications are fully observable. The model also provides a framework that is equipped to investigate the social psychological concept of identity, where identity is viewed as self-categorization.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9579.

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Date of creation: Mar 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9579

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  1. Moro,A. & Norman,P., 2001. "A general equilibrium model of statistical discrimination," Working papers 4, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  2. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  3. Barberis, Nicholas & Shleifer, Andrei, 2003. "Style investing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 161-199, May.
  4. Kim-Sau Chung, 2000. "Role Models and Arguments for Affirmative Action," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 640-648, June.
  5. Cornell, Bradford & Welch, Ivo, 1996. "Culture, Information, and Screening Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 542-71, June.
  6. Hanming Fang, 2001. "Social Culture and Economic Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 924-937, September.
  7. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 447-464, May.
  8. Jackson, Matthew O. & Kalai, Ehud, 1997. "Social Learning in Recurring Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 102-134, October.
  9. repec:fth:harver:1908 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model Of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82, February.
  11. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
  12. Philippe Jehiel, 2005. "Analogy-Based Expectation Equilibrium," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000106, UCLA Department of Economics.
  13. Phipps Arabie, 1991. "Was euclid an unnecessarily sophisticated psychologist?," Psychometrika, Springer, vol. 56(4), pages 567-587, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Houy, Nicolas, 2006. "Exclusion by cognitive limitation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 317-320, March.
  2. Kaushik Basu, 2005. "Racial conflict and the malignancy of identity," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 221-241, December.
  3. Avner Ben-Ner & Brian P. McCall & Massoud Stephane & Hua Wang, 2006. "Identity and Self-Other Differentiation in Work and Giving Behaviors: Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 2006.103, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Basu, Kaushik, 2006. "Identity, Trust and Altruism: Sociological Clues to Economic Development," Working Papers 06-05, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  5. Roland G. Fryer Jr., 2007. "Guess Who's Been Coming to Dinner? Trends in Interracial Marriage over the 20th Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 71-90, Spring.
  6. Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Testing Theories of Discrimination: Evidence from "Weakest Link"," NBER Working Papers 9449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ben-Ner, Avner, 2013. "Preferences and organization structure: Toward behavioral economics micro-foundations of organizational analysis," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 87-96.
  8. Hanming Fang & Glenn C. Loury, 2004. "Toward An Economic Theory of Dysfunctional Identity," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1483, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  9. Antecol, Heather & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A., 2004. "Identity and Racial Harassment," IZA Discussion Papers 1149, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. repec:dgr:umamet:2005013 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Basu, Kaushik, 2006. "Participatory Equity, Identity, and Productivity: Policy Implications for Promoting Development," Working Papers 06-06, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  12. Kaushik Basu, 2007. "Identity and altruism: The Moral basis of prosperity and oppression," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 08-08, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  13. Stefano DellaVigna & Matthew Gentzkow, 2010. "Persuasion: Empirical Evidence," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 643-669, 09.
  14. Oxoby, Robert J & Finnigan, Hugh, 2005. "Developing Heuristic-Based Quality Judgements: Attention Blocking in Consumer Choice," MPRA Paper 1523, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Jacques, Jean-Fran├žois & Walkowiak, Emmanuelle, 2009. "Low wages and high unemployment rates : The role of social interactions in hiring discrimination," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/1902, Paris Dauphine University.
  16. Ben-Ner, Avner & McCall, Brian P. & Stephane, Massoud & Wang, Hua, 2009. "Identity and in-group/out-group differentiation in work and giving behaviors: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 153-170, October.
  17. Dev, Pritha, 2010. "Identity and Fragmentation in Networks," MPRA Paper 21632, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Dev, Pritha, 2010. "Choosing `Me' and `My Friends': Identity in a Non-Cooperative Network Formation Game with Cost Sharing," MPRA Paper 21631, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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