Get her off my screen: Taste-based discrimination in a high-stakes popularity contest

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Abstract

This study tests for taste-based discrimination in a high-stakes popularity contest. Data is taken from audience voting in six countries on the reality television show Big Brother, a setting where statistical discrimination can play no role. The audience votes as to which contestants remain on the show, the winner of which earns a large cash prize; I test the grounds on which voters discriminate, whether by gender, race, or age. Results show a striking taste for discrimination against women: being female makes an eligible contestant significantly more likely to lose an audience vote in five of the seven versions of Big Brother analysed. There is also evidence of a taste for discrimination against non-white contestants amongst audiences in Germany, Italy and the UK. However, little support is found for taste-based age discrimination. I present evidence that the levels of discrimination identified are robust to differences in the types of contestant appearing on Big Brother.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-563
Number of pages16
JournalOxford Economic Papers
Volume71
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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