'Group identities and strategic discrimination' presented by Dr Dominik Duell, University of Innsbruck

Part of the Exeter Q-Step/NCRM Research Methods Seminar Series

The University of Exeter Q-Step Centre seminar
Date11 March 2022

In a laboratory setting, we explore strategic discrimination in principal-agent relationships, which arises from mutually reinforcing expectations of identity-contingent choices. Our experimental design isolates the influence of the strategic environment from effects of other sources of discrimination, including statistical differences between subpopulations and outright prejudice.

We find that, in a strategic setting, principals who reward agents on the basis of outcomes more readily attribute high performance to effort when they share the agent’s group identity. No such bias exists either for principals whose reward decisions are outcome independent or for principals in a nonstrategic environment. Agents in the strategic setting tend to anticipate higher demands from out-group principals and condition their effort choice on that expectation. We then evaluate interventions to alleviate discrimination based on group identity: (1) improving the principals' information regarding agents' effort; (2) creating uncertainty for the agents about the principals' identity; and (3) having principals announce a non-binding, identity-independent reward rule before agents' choices. All three interventions are, to varying degrees, effective in decreasing the principals' discriminatory actions and beliefs, but raise agents' suspicions of the principals and may lead them to expect even greater identity-contingent bias.


Part of the Exeter Q-Step/NCRM Research Methods Seminar Series

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