NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Katherine B. Coffman

445 Baker Library
Harvard Business School
Boston, MA 02163

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2016Beliefs about Gender
with Pedro Bordalo, Nicola Gennaioli, Andrei Shleifer: w22972
We conduct a laboratory experiment on the determinants of beliefs about own and others’ ability across different domains. A preliminary look at the data points to two distinct forces: miscalibration in estimating performance depending on the difficulty of tasks and gender stereotypes. We develop a theoretical model that separates these forces and apply it to analyze a large laboratory dataset in which participants estimate their own and a partner’s performance on questions across six subjects: arts and literature, emotion recognition, business, verbal reasoning, mathematics, and sports. We find that participants greatly overestimate not only their own ability but also that of others, suggesting that miscalibration is a substantial, first order factor in stated beliefs. Women are better cal...
October 2013The Size of the LGBT Population and the Magnitude of Anti-Gay Sentiment are Substantially Underestimated
with Lucas C. Coffman, Keith M. Marzilli Ericson: w19508
Measuring sexual orientation, behavior, and related opinions is difficult because responses are biased towards socially acceptable answers. We test whether measurements are biased even when responses are private and anonymous and use our results to identify sexuality-related norms and how they vary. We run an experiment on 2,516 U.S. participants. Participants were randomly assigned to either a "best practices method" that was computer-based and provides privacy and anonymity, or to a "veiled elicitation method" that further conceals individual responses. Answers in the veiled method preclude inference about any particular individual, but can be used to accurately estimate statistics about the population. Comparing the two methods shows sexuality-related questions receive biased responses ...
 
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