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Gender Differences and Stereotypes in the Beauty Contest

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Abstract: Recent literature has emphasized that individuals display different depths of reasoning when playing games. In this paper, we explore gender differences in strategic sophistication and study whether these differences are endogenous. We report results from two different experiments employing the beauty contest. In the first, large study, we show that females react very strongly to incentives to the extent that gender differences disappear when a monetary prize is awarded. In the second study, we use a within subject design to analyze how depth of reasoning varies with gender priming and the gender composition of the set of players. We corroborate that females display higher levels of sophistication and even overtake males when incentives are provided and gender is primed. On the other hand, males who believe that females are better in the game display higher sophistication when playing against females.

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