Katherine B. Coffman

445 Baker Library
Harvard Business School
Boston, MA 02163

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2020Older People are Less Pessimistic about the Health Risks of Covid-19
with Pedro Bordalo, Nicola Gennaioli, Andrei Shleifer: w27494
A central question for understanding behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic, at both the individual and collective levels, is how people perceive the health and economic risks they face. We conducted a survey of over 1,500 Americans from May 6 – 13, 2020, to understand these risk perceptions. Here we report some preliminary results. Our most striking finding is that perceived personal health risks associated with Covid-19 fall sharply with age.
March 2019Memory and Representativeness
with Pedro Bordalo, Nicola Gennaioli, Frederik Schwerter, Andrei Shleifer: w25692
We explore the idea that judgment by representativeness reflects the workings of episodic memory, especially interference. In a new laboratory experiment on cued recall, participants are shown two groups of images with different distributions of colors. We find that i) decreasing the frequency of a given color in one group significantly increases the recalled frequency of that color in the other group, ii) for a fixed set of images, different cues for the same objective distribution entail different interference patterns and different probabilistic assessments. Selective retrieval and interference may offer a foundation for the representativeness heuristic, but more generally for understanding the formation of probability judgments from experienced statistical associations.
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...

Published: Pedro Bordalo & Katherine Coffman & Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2019. "Beliefs about Gender," American Economic Review, vol 109(3), pages 739-773. citation courtesy of

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 ...

Published: The Size of the LGBT Population and the Magnitude of Antigay Sentiment Are Substantially Underestimated Katherine B. Coffman, Lucas C. Coffman, and Keith M. Marzilli Ericson Management Science 201763:10 , 3168-3186

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