First Impression Biases in the Performing Arts: Taste-Based Discrimination and the Value of Blind Auditioning

Dec 2019 | 892

Authors: Jasmin Droege


I develop a game-theoretic framework to study the repercussions of an evaluator’s bias against a specific group of applicants. The evaluator decides upfront between holding an informed or a blind audition. In the latter, the evaluator learns neither the applicant’s ability nor the gender. I show that, above a threshold bias, the evaluator prefers a blind audition to provide high effort incentives exclusively for high-ability applicants. Consequently, committing to no information can be beneficial for the evaluator. I also show that a highly biased evaluator’s preferences align with those of a highly able female. The introduction of performance uncertainty may lead to market failure or may render informed auditions more profitable, rationalising ability-targeting interventions. My results can explain why blind auditions have increased the probability of women being hired via taste-based discrimination and challenge explanations grounded in sta¬tistical discrimination.

JEL Codes: C70, D81, D86, D91, J16, J71

Keywords: first impression, bias, blind audition, taste-based discrimination, performance un-certainty


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