Bordalo, Pedro, Nicola Gennaioli, and Andrei Shleifer. 2014. Stereotypes. Working Paper, Harvard University.
We present a model of stereotypes in which a decision maker assessing a group recalls only that group’s most representative or distinctive types. Stereotypes highlight differences between groups, and are especially inaccurate (consisting of unlikely, extreme types) when groups are similar. Stereotypical thinking exhibits base rate neglect, but also confirmation bias: beliefs overreact to information that confirms the stereotype and ignore information that contradicts it. Stereotypes can change if new information changes the group’s most distinctive trait. Applied to gender stereotypes, the model provides a unified account of disparate evidence regarding the gender gap in education and in labor markets.