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Differences in Cognitive Reflection Mediate Gender Differences in Social Preferences

Antonio Espín, Valerio Capraro Valerio Capraro, Brice Corgnet, Simon Gächter, Roberto Hernan-Gonzalez, Praveen Kujal and Stephen Rassenti
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Valerio Capraro Valerio Capraro: Department of Economics, Middlesex University Business School
Roberto Hernan-Gonzalez: Burgundy School of Business, Universite Bourgogne Franche-Comte

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Roberto Hernán González

Working Papers from Chapman University, Economic Science Institute

Abstract: Previous studies have shown that women tend to be more egalitarian and less self-interested than men whereas men tend to be more concerned with social efficiency motives. The roots of such differences, however, remain unknown. Since different cognitive styles have also been associated with different distributional social preferences, we hypothesise that gender differences in social preferences can be partially explained by differences in cognitive styles (i.e., women rely more on intuition whereas men are more reflective). We test this hypothesis meta-analytically using data from seven studies conducted in four countries (USA, Spain, India, and UK; n=6,910) where cognitive reflection and social preferences were measured for men and women. In line with our hypothesis, differences in cognitive reflection scores explain up to 41% of the gender differences in social preferences. The mediation is barely affected by variables such as cognitive ability or study-level characteristics. These results suggest that the socio-ecological or cultural pressures that influence gender differences in cognitive styles are also partially responsible for gender differences in social preferences.

Keywords: gender differences; cognitive reflection; social preferences; self-interest; social efficiency; egalitarianism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B55 C91 C93 D31 D63 J16 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp, nep-hme, nep-ltv and nep-neu
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1)

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