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Negative Stereotypes and Willingness to Change Them: Testing Theories of Discrimination in South Africa


  • Jorge Aguero

    (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


This paper proposes a new test to distinguish between the two leading theories of discrimination: preference versus information. Discrimination based on preferences occurs when people behave as if they refuse to change their stereotypes about the capabilities of discriminated individuals. Those who discriminate based on information are willing to alter their stereotypes. Using data from a quasi- experiment in South Africa, I test for discrimination against women and non-whites. The preliminary results show no discrimination against the former. In the case of racial discrimination, players’ stereotypes benefit non-whites instead of white opponents, but they are reluctant to change their impression for the former. However, they are willing to change their initial impression about white opponents. This has severe implications about the permanency of affirmative action policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Jorge Aguero, 2005. "Negative Stereotypes and Willingness to Change Them: Testing Theories of Discrimination in South Africa," Labor and Demography 0506010, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0506010
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 25

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    Theories of Discrimination; South Africa; Experiments; Bayesian Learning;

    JEL classification:

    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • J79 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Other
    • C99 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Other
    • N37 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Africa; Oceania

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