Categorical Cognition: A Psychological Model of Categories and Identification in Decision Making
Roland G. Fryer, Jr., Matthew O. Jackson
NBER Working Paper No. 9579
There is a wealth of research in psychology demonstrating that agents process information with the aid of categories. In this paper we study this phenomenon in two parts. First, we build a model of how experiences are sorted into categories and how categorization affects decision making. Second, we analyze the personal biases that result from categorization, in economic contexts. We show that discrimination can result from such cognitive processes even when there is no malevolent taste to do so and workers' qualifications are fully observable. The model also provides a framework that is equipped to investigate the social psychological concept of identity, where identity is viewed as self-categorization.
Published: Fryer, Ronald and M. Jackson. “Categorical Cognition: A Psychological Model of Categories and Identification in Decision Making: An Extended Abstract." Proceedings of the 9th conference on Theoretical Aspects of Rationality and Knowledge (2003): 29-34.