Dept. of Economics, Fisher Hall
Princeton, NJ 08540
Job Market Paper: Attribution Error and Discrimination in Games
Abstract: Individuals often evaluate other people without accounting for the circumstances that other people face, even when those circumstances can be observed or inferred. I translate this psychological bias into a novel solution concept, called attributive equilibrium, and analyze its implications for statistical discrimination. In an attributive equilibrium, each player forms beliefs according to a subjective model in which ex post data about her opponents is explained purely by her opponents' types. I show that an equilibrium always exists and characterize how it contrasts with classical and behavioral solution concepts. Crucially, when players are partitioned into publicly observable groups, any realized differences across groups are interpreted as reflecting type differences. This inference incentivizes discrimination even when all groups have equal type distributions and the game admits a unique Bayesian Nash equilibrium. Moreover, it generates systematic belief differences across groups, a prediction I show is consistent with evidence from the General Social Survey. As own-group beliefs are correct in equilibrium, majority groups are by nature more insulated from discrimination than minorities. The analysis suggests that efforts to increase empathy by publicizing discrimination will be ineffective unless groups already face comparable circumstances. Furthermore, policies to promote diversity are most efficient when directed at social leaders, such as teachers and managers, whose actions critically impact the ex post data of other players.
(with Keith Chauvin and Anna Hopper)
Abstract: We investigate the impact of gender on strategic decision-making using a dataset of the trivia game show Jeopardy. In a sample of over 4,000 episodes and 200,000 individual trivia clues, women answer clues correctly at a rate 99% that of men but attempt only 84% as many clues. Consequently, women’s average final scores are 80% that of men, and their average cash winnings are 59% that of men. We employ a structural hazard rate model to understand the critical gender gap in clue attempting. In order to attempt a clue, a contestant must be the first to push a signaling button. Our model estimates suggest although that women are generally slower to signal than men, the gender composition of all three contestants is critical. In episodes with a mixed-gender panel, women signal 9% slower than in all-women episodes. By contrast, men's times are equivalent in mixed-gender and all-men episodes. Furthermore, while contestants of both genders signal faster in repeat appearances on the show, the speed gain for women is twice that of men. We interpret the results as broadly consistent with a stereotype-threat theory of gender differences in competition.
Non-Linear and Trade-Restricted Competitive Equilibria
Abstract: In thin markets, competitive equilibria may fail to exist when traders’ preferences include complementarities. Such preferences induce discontinuities in aggregate demand that can preclude market clearing. This kind of equilibrium breakdown is relevant for markets such as radio spectrum licenses, in which a relatively small set of firms seek to acquire bundles of small, highly idiosyncratic goods. However, even when no competitive price vector exists, efficient trades can potentially be supported by using non-linear prices or by restricting traders to a subset of exchange bids. I show that these two alternative concepts are in fact nearly equivalent in supportive power. Furthermore, restricted equilibria admit a natural hierarchy in which relatively less restrictive equilibria yield greater efficiency and satisfy tighter core conditions than their more restrictive counterparts. These generalized concepts may facilitate the development of price-based combinatorial exchanges. Towards that end, I present an extension of the Walrasian Tatonnement algorithm that uses only anonymous market orders and identifies a maximally efficient restricted equilibrium.