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Insidious Discrimination? Disentangling the Beauty Premium on a Game Show


  • Belot, Michèle
  • Bhaskar, Venkataraman
  • Van de Ven, Jeroen


This paper analyzes behaviour on a TV game show where players' monetary payoffs depend upon an array of factors, including ability in answering questions, perceived cooperativeness and the willingness of other players to choose them. We find a substantial beauty premium and are able to disentangle contributing factors. Attractive players perform no differently from less attractive ones, on every dimension. They also exhibit and engender the same degree of cooperativeness. Nevertheless, attractive players are substantially less likely to be eliminated by their peers. Our results suggest a consumption value basis for the beauty premium, and it appears that this is a form of insidious discrimination.

Suggested Citation

  • Belot, Michèle & Bhaskar, Venkataraman & Van de Ven, Jeroen, 2007. "Insidious Discrimination? Disentangling the Beauty Premium on a Game Show," CEPR Discussion Papers 6276, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6276

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
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    7. Levitt, Steven D, 2004. "Testing Theories of Discrimination: Evidence from Weakest Link," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 431-452, October.
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    9. Andreoni, James & Petrie, Ragan, 2008. "Beauty, gender and stereotypes: Evidence from laboratory experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 73-93, February.
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    12. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
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    15. Solnick, Sara J. & Schweitzer, Maurice E., 1999. "The Influence of Physical Attractiveness and Gender on Ultimatum Game Decisions," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 199-215, September.
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    More about this item


    beauty premium; discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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