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The Power of Stereotyping and Confirmation Bias to Overwhelm Accurate Assessment: The Case of Economics, Gender, and Risk Aversion


  • Julie A. Nelson


Behavioral research has revealed how normal human cognitive processes can tend to lead us astray. But do these affect economic researchers, ourselves? This article explores the consequences of stereotyping and confirmation bias using a sample of published articles from the economics literature on gender and risk aversion. The results demonstrate that the supposedly “robust†claim that “women are more risk averse than men†is far less empirically supported than has been claimed. The questions of how these cognitive biases arise and why they have such power are discussed, and methodological practices that may help to attenuate these biases are outlined.

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  • Julie A. Nelson, 2013. "The Power of Stereotyping and Confirmation Bias to Overwhelm Accurate Assessment: The Case of Economics, Gender, and Risk Aversion," Working Papers 2013_07, University of Massachusetts Boston, Economics Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:mab:wpaper:2013_07

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Läpple, Doris & Kelley, Hugh, 2013. "Understanding the uptake of organic farming: Accounting for heterogeneities among Irish farmers," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 11-19.
    2. Schmid, Erwin & Sinabell, Franz & Hofreither, Markus F., 2007. "Phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies: Consequences of the 2003 CAP reform," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 596-604, January.
    3. Ika Darnhofer & Walter Schneeberger & Bernhard Freyer, 2005. "Converting or not converting to organic farming in Austria:Farmer types and their rationale," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 22(1), pages 39-52, March.
    4. Feder, Gershon & O'Mara, Gerald T, 1981. "Farm Size and the Diffusion of Green Revolution Technology," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 59-76, October.
    5. Patricia Allen & Martin Kovach, 2000. "The capitalist composition of organic: The potential of markets in fulfilling the promise of organic agriculture," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 17(3), pages 221-232, September.
    6. Stolze, Matthias & Lampkin, Nicolas, 2009. "Policy for organic farming: Rationale and concepts," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 237-244, June.
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    More about this item


    stereotyping; bias; confirmation bias; gender; risk aversion; effect size; index of similarity;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • 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
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments

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