Room composition effects on risk taking by gender

  • Marco Castillo
  • Greg Leo
  • Ragan PetrieEmail author
Original Paper


We present evidence of a direct social context effect on decision-making under uncertainty: the gender composition of those in the room when making individual risky decisions significantly alters choices even when the actions or presence of others are not payoff relevant. In our environment, decision makers do not know the choices made by others, nor can they be inferred from the experiment. We find that women become more risk taking as the proportion of men in the room increases, but the behavior of men is unaffected by who is present. We discuss some potential mechanisms for this result and conjecture it is driven by women being aware of the social context and imitating the expected behavior of others. Our results imply that the environment in which individual decisions are made can change expressed preferences and that aggregate behavior may be context dependent.


Gender Decision context effects Risk aversion Experiment 

JEL Classification

C91 D81 J16 


Supplementary material

10683_2019_9635_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (307 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 306 KB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.The Melbourne InstituteMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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