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Descriptive norms and gender diversity: Reactance from men

Author

Listed:
  • Maliheh Paryavi

    (Harvard University)

  • Iris Bohnet

    (Harvard University)

  • Alexandra van Geen

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Abstract

Descriptive norms provide social information on others’ typical behaviors and have been shown to lead to prescriptive outcomes by “nudging” individuals towards norm compliance in numerous settings. This paper examines whether descriptive norms lead to prescriptive outcomes in the gender domain. We examine whether such social information can influence the gender distribution of candidates selected by employers in a hiring context. We conduct a series of laboratory experiments where ‘employers’ decide how many male and female ‘employees’ they want to hire for male- and female-typed tasks and examine whether employers are more likely to hire more of one gender when informed that others have done so as well. In this set-up descriptive norms do not have prescriptive effects. In fact, descriptive norms do not affect female employers’ hiring decisions at all and lead to norm reactance and backlash from male employers when informed that others have hired more women.

Suggested Citation

  • Maliheh Paryavi & Iris Bohnet & Alexandra van Geen, 2019. "Descriptive norms and gender diversity: Reactance from men," Journal of Behavioral Public Administration, Center for Experimental and Behavioral Public Administration, vol. 2(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:bpd:articl:v:2:y:2019:i:1:jbpa.21.51
    DOI: 10.30636/jbpa.21.51
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Decision making; Gender norms; Gender diversity; Nudge; Framing; Reactance; Backlash;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General
    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General

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