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Full-Text Articles in Social and Behavioral Sciences

Are Women Really More Risk-Averse Than Men? A Re-Analysis Of The Literature Using Expanded Methods, Julie Nelson Aug 2013

Are Women Really More Risk-Averse Than Men? A Re-Analysis Of The Literature Using Expanded Methods, Julie Nelson

Julie A. Nelson

While a substantial literature in economics and finance has concluded that “women are more risk averse than men,” this conclusion merits investigation. After briefly clarifying the difference between making generalizations about groups, on the one hand, and making valid inferences from samples, on the other, this essay suggests improvements to how economists communicate our research results. Supplementing findings of statistical significance with quantitative measures of both substantive difference (Cohen's d, a measure in common use in non-­‐Economics literatures) and of substantive overlap (the Index of Similarity, newly proposed here) adds important nuance to the discussion of sex differences ...


Would Women Leaders Have Prevented The Global Financial Crisis? Teaching Critical Thinking By Questioning A Question, Julie Nelson Jun 2013

Would Women Leaders Have Prevented The Global Financial Crisis? Teaching Critical Thinking By Questioning A Question, Julie Nelson

Julie A. Nelson

Would having more women in leadership have prevented the financial crisis? This question, raised in the popular media, can make effective fodder for teaching critical thinking within courses such as gender and economics, money and financial institutions, pluralist economics, or behavioural economics. While the question, as posed, demands an answer of 'Yes - sex differences in traits are important' or 'No - gender is irrelevant', students can be encouraged to question the question itself. The first part of this essay briefly reviews literature on the sameness-versus-difference debate, noting that the belief in exaggerated behavioural differences between men and women is not, in ...


Not-So-Strong Evidence For Gender Differences In Risk, Julie Nelson Jan 2013

Not-So-Strong Evidence For Gender Differences In Risk, Julie Nelson

Julie A. Nelson

In their article "Strong Evidence for Gender Differences in Risk Taking," Gary Charness and Uri Gneezy (2012) review a number of experimental studies regarding investments in risky assets, and claim that these yield strong evidence that females are more risk averse than males. This study replicates and extends their article, demonstrating that its methods are highly problematic. While the methods used would be appropriate for categorical, individual-­‐level differences, the data reviewed are not consistent with such a model. Instead, modest differences (at most) exist only at aggregate levels, such as group means. The evidence in favor of gender difference ...


Fearing Fear: Gender And Economic Discourse, Julie Nelson Jan 2013

Fearing Fear: Gender And Economic Discourse, Julie Nelson

Julie A. Nelson

Economic discourse—or the lack of it—about fear is gendered on at least three fronts. First, while masculine-­‐associated notions of reason and mind have historically been prioritized in mainstream economics, fear—along with other emotions and embodiment—has tended to be culturally associated with femininity. Research on cognitive "gender schema," then, may at least partly explain the near absence of discussions of fear within economic research. Second, in the rare cases where fear is discussed in the contemporary economics literature, there is a tendency to (overly-­‐)strongly associate it with women. Finally, historians and philosophers of science have ...


The Power Of Stereotyping And Confirmation Bias To Overwhelm Accurate Assessment: The Case Of Economics, Gender, And Risk Aversion, Julie A. Nelson Dec 2012

The Power Of Stereotyping And Confirmation Bias To Overwhelm Accurate Assessment: The Case Of Economics, Gender, And Risk Aversion, Julie A. Nelson

Julie A. Nelson

Behavioral research has revealed how normal human cognitive processes can tend to lead us astray. But do these affect economic researchers, ourselves? This article explores the consequences of stereotyping and confirmation bias using a sample of published articles from the economics literature on gender and risk aversion. The results demonstrate that the supposedly “robust” claim that “women are more risk averse than men” is far less empirically supported than has been claimed. The questions of how these cognitive biases arise and why they have such power are discussed, and methodological practices that may help to attenuate these biases are outlined.