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Being faced with gender stereotypes makes women less likely to take financial risks
Date:11/17/2010

Last year Nicholas Kristof declared in his New York Times column what banks need to fix their problems: Not just a bailout, but also "women, women, and women." Women are generally thought to be less willing to take risks than men, so he speculated that the banks could balance out risky men by employing more women. Stereotypes like this about women actually influence how women make financial decisions, making them more wary of risk, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Anecdotally, many people believe that women are more risk averse and loss averse than menthat women make safer and more cautious financial decisions. And some research has supported this, suggesting that the gender differences may be biologically rooted or evolutionarily programmed.

But Priyanka B. Carr of Stanford University and Claude M. Steele of Columbia University thought that these differences might be the result of negative stereotypesstereotypes about women being irrational and illogical. So they designed experiments to study how women make financial decisions, when faced with negative stereotypes and when not. Past research has shown that being faced with negative stereotypes about one's group can hamper intellectual performance, and Carr and Steele reasoned it could also affect financial decision making.

In the experiments, they altered whether the participants were made to think about negative stereotypes about women or not. Some volunteers were told that they would be completing tasks to measure their mathematical, logical, and rational reasoning abilities. Since the stereotype is that women aren't talented at these things, this should raise the stereotype in the volunteer's mind.

To be very sure, these people were also asked to indicate their gender before doing the tasks. Other volunteers were told that they would be working on puzzles, and were not asked thei
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Contact: Keri Chiodo
kchiodo@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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