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Room Effects


  • Marco Castillo

    () (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University)

  • Gregory Leo

    () (Department of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Ragan Petrie

    () (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University)


We present clean evidence of a direct social context effect on behavior in a laboratory experiment: the gender composition of the room significantly alters the risk decisions of subjects even when the actions or presence of others are neither payoff nor information relevant. Our design is such that subjects do not know the decisions of others, nor can they be inferred. We find that women become more risk taking as the proportion of men in the group increases. This is most consistent with women imitating the expected behavior of others in the session. Our results imply that aggregate behavior is not a simple extrapolation of individual preferences. Groups might have more extreme behavior than the average individual. Length: 27

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Castillo & Gregory Leo & Ragan Petrie, 2013. "Room Effects," Working Papers 1040, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Apr 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:gms:wpaper:1040

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Amalia R. Miller & Carmit Segal, 2014. "Do female officers improve law enforcement quality? Effects on crime reporting and domestic violence escalation," UBSCENTER - Working Papers 009, UBS International Center of Economics in Society - Department of Economics - University of Zurich.

    More about this item


    gender; context effect; risk aversion; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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