Wednesday January 16, 2013
1:00PM - 2:30PM
University of Pennsylvania
The Price is Sexist: Taste-Based Gender Discrimination by Contestants on The Price Is Right
We report evidence of taste-based discrimination by contestants in the One Bid game on The Price Is Right television show. One Bid contestants must bid closest to the price of an item without exceeding it. The last bidder in the game has a dominant cutoff strategy of bidding $1 more than another contestant, but this strategy also leaves the other contestant with almost no chance to win. Despite high stakes for playing impartially, our analysis of over 3,900 games reveals that last bidders are 19% more likely to cut off opposite-gender opponents. In females, this effect appears to be driven by incorrect beliefs that male bids are better. Males do not show this bias, but evidently like using cutoff bids more against female than against male opponents. Favorable treatment of same-gender opponents costs players an average of $193 in prize winnings across all games, increasing to $425 in the last game of the day. These results show that gender preferences and incorrect use of gender stereotypes can persist even when incentives strongly favor gender impartiality.