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Discrimination in the Lab: Experiments Exploring the Impact of Performance and Appearance on Sorting and Cooperation

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  • Marco Castillo
  • Ragan Petrie

Abstract

We present experimental evidence consistent with statistical discrimination in a public good and group formation game. We find that behavior is correlated with race and gender, and people use race and gender to predict behavior when no other information is available. When information on behavior is provided, people disregard personal characteristics completely. These characteristics are also disregarded when individual behavior is induced to break the correlation between characteristics and behavior. That is, people disregard race and gender even when observed behavior is unusual but relevant to payoffs. Finally, our experiments show that sorting into groups has dramatic implications on cooperation. Overall payoffs are higher when sorting is possible than when groups are randomly assigned. This only occurs, however, when personal characteristics are known. Higher payoffs are attained at the cost of an equitable distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie, 2006. "Discrimination in the Lab: Experiments Exploring the Impact of Performance and Appearance on Sorting and Cooperation," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-20, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Dec 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2006-20
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    File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2006-20.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2006
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2007-02.pdf
    File Function: Revised version, 2007
    Download Restriction: no

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    Cited by:

    1. Catherine C. Eckel & Ragan Petrie, 2011. "Face Value," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1497-1513, June.
    2. Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie & Máximo Torero, 2008. "Ethnic and Social Barriers to Cooperation: Experiments Studying the Extent and Nature of Discrimination in Urban Peru," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 3316, Inter-American Development Bank.

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