The Price of Racial Bias: Intergroup Negotiations in the Ultimatum Game

Jennifer T. Kubota, Jian Li, Eyal Bar-David, Mahzarin R. Banaji, Elizabeth A. Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Existing stereotypes about Black Americans may influence perceptions of intent during financial negotiations. In this study, we explored whether the influence of race on economic decisions extends to choices that are costly to the decision maker. We investigated whether racial group membership contributes to differential likelihood of rejection of objectively equal unfair monetary offers. In the Ultimatum Game, players accept or reject proposed splits of money. Players keep accepted splits, but if a player rejects an offer, both the player and the proposer receive nothing. We found that participants accepted more offers and lower offer amounts from White proposers than from Black proposers, and that this pattern was accentuated for participants with higher implicit race bias. These findings indicate that participants are willing to discriminate against Black proposers even at a cost to their own financial gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2498-2504
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Ultimatum Game
  • behavioral economics
  • decision making
  • implicit race bias
  • intergroup dynamics
  • prejudice
  • racial and ethnic attitudes and relations
  • social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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