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The Language of Discrimination: Using Experimental versus Observational Data


  • Aislinn Bohren
  • Alex Imas
  • Michael Rosenberg


We use experimental and observational data to examine whether people respond differently to questions posed by females versus males. We document significant differences in the language of responses, both in terms of the distribution of language utilized, and the sentiment of this language (positive or negative). In the observational data, we also document differences in the language and sentiment of questions posed by gender. This highlights the importance of using experimental data to identify the causal role that gender plays in influencing the language choice of individuals responding to questions from males versus females.

Suggested Citation

  • Aislinn Bohren & Alex Imas & Michael Rosenberg, 2018. "The Language of Discrimination: Using Experimental versus Observational Data," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 108, pages 169-174, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:apandp:v:108:y:2018:p:169-74
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pandp.20181099

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    Cited by:

    1. Eyting, Markus, 2022. "Why do we discriminate? The role of motivated reasoning," SAFE Working Paper Series 356, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    2. Christine L. Exley & Judd B. Kessler, 2019. "The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion," Working Papers 2019-058, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. Yana Gallen & Melanie Wasserman, 2021. "Informed Choices: Gender Gaps in Career Advice," CESifo Working Paper Series 8875, CESifo.
    4. Markus Eyting, 2022. "Why do we Discriminate? The Role of Motivated Reasoning," Working Papers 2208, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.
    5. Christine L Exley & Judd B Kessler, 2022. "The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 137(3), pages 1345-1381.
    6. Scoles, Brooke & Nicodemo, Catia, 2022. "Doctors’ attitudes toward specific medical conditions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 204(C), pages 182-199.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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