Social categories matter to people, but it is not obvious ex ante which ones matter more. To explore this, we conduct a novel experimental market of anonymous partners based on social categories. Participants have the option of choosing or discarding a peer according to their gender, ethnicity, and religion. Our research design allows us to explore whether individuals prioritize social categories when selecting a peer and whether the order in which social categories are prioritized is context dependent. Considering both free and costly decisions, two economic contexts are evaluated: donations (dictator game) and investments (risk game). We find that when selecting a partner, gender appears to be the dominant social category across different conditions, with subjects exhibiting sharp preferences for being matched with a female partner. However, the partner's religion gains prominence as a requested social category when issues concerning social-group decision-making become relevant to one's own payoffs. Finally, we find that choosing social categories seems to have economic consequences both by increasing economic donations and increasing investments.
- Social categories
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management