Testing Theories of Discrimination: Evidence from Weakest Link
Contestant voting behavior on the television game show Weakest Link provides an unusual opportunity to distinguish between taste-based and information-based theories of discrimination. In early rounds, strategic incentives encourage voting for the weakest competitors. In later rounds, the incentives reverse and the strongest competitors become the logical target. Controlling for other characteristics, both theories of discrimination predict that in early rounds excess votes will be made against groups targeted for discrimination. In later rounds, however, taste-based models predict continued excess votes, whereas statistical discrimination predicts fewer votes against the target group. Although players are voting strategically, evidence of discrimination is limited. There is little in the data to suggest discrimination against women and blacks. I find some patterns consistent with information-based discrimination toward Hispanics (other players perceive them as having low ability) and taste-based discrimination against older players (other players treat them with animus).
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