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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.