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Women form social networks more selectively and less opportunistically than men

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  • Friebel, Guido
  • Lalanne, Marie
  • Richter, Bernard
  • Schwardmann, Peter
  • Seabright, Paul

Abstract

We test two hypotheses, based on sexual selection theory, about gender differences in costly social interactions. Differential selectivity states that women invest less than men in interactions with new individuals. Differential opportunism states that women's investment in social interactions is less responsive to information about the interaction's payoffs. The hypotheses imply that women's social networks are more stable and path dependent and composed of a greater proportion of strong relative to weak links. During their introductory week, we let new university students play an experimental trust game, first with one anonymous partner, then with the same and a new partner. Consistent with our hypotheses, we find that women invest less than men in new partners and that their investments are only half as responsive to information about the likely returns to the investment. Moreover, subsequent formation of students' real social networks is consistent with the experimental results: being randomly assigned to the same introductory group has a much larger positive effect on women's likelihood of reporting a subsequent friendship.

Suggested Citation

  • Friebel, Guido & Lalanne, Marie & Richter, Bernard & Schwardmann, Peter & Seabright, Paul, 2017. "Women form social networks more selectively and less opportunistically than men," SAFE Working Paper Series 168, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:safewp:168
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lori Beaman & Niall Keleher & Jeremy Magruder, 2018. "Do Job Networks Disadvantage Women? Evidence from a Recruitment Experiment in Malawi," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 121-157.
    2. Ilse Lindenlaub & Anja Prummer, 2014. "Gender, Social Networks And Performance," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1461, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    3. Meta Brown & Elizabeth Setren & Giorgio Topa, 2016. "Do Informal Referrals Lead to Better Matches? Evidence from a Firm's Employee Referral System," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 161-209.
    4. Slonim, Robert & Guillen, Pablo, 2010. "Gender selection discrimination: Evidence from a Trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 385-405, November.
    5. Stephen V. Burks & Bo Cowgill & Mitchell Hoffman & Michael Housman, 2015. "The Value of Hiring through Employee Referrals," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 805-839.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandra Colombelli & Elena Grinza & Valentina Meliciani & Mariacristina Rossi, 2019. "Pulling Effects in Migrant Entrepreneurship: Does Gender Matter?," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 591, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    2. Azmat, Ghazala & Boring, Anne, 2020. "Gender Diversity in Firms," IZA Policy Papers 168, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Buechel, Berno & Mechtenberg, Lydia & Petersen, Julia, 2017. "Peer effects on perseverance," FSES Working Papers 488, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland.
    4. Alessandro Manello & Maurizio Cisi & Francesco Devicienti & Davide Vannoni, 2020. "Networking: a business for women," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 55(2), pages 329-348, August.
    5. van den Akker, Olmo R. & van Assen, Marcel A.L.M. & van Vugt, Mark & Wicherts, Jelte M., 2020. "Sex differences in trust and trustworthiness: A meta-analysis of the trust game and the gift-exchange game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social networks; gender differences; trust game;
    All these keywords.

    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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