Saturday, May 13, 2017

When men are too emotional to make important judgments

Joshua Fershee started a conversation about incompetent male leaders, so in keeping with that theme, here are a couple of other interesting data points.

First, a new study shows that male loan officers are more willing to lend money to other men – especially men they bond with.  (Bloomberg story here; paper here).  That doesn’t work out so well for the banks; these loans are more likely to default.  Women loan officers do not suffer from the same bias.

Second, another study shows that male analysts are biased in favor of male CEOs – again, an effect that doesn’t hold for women.  (WSJ story here; paper here).

The critical point, for me, is that these biases exist even though they are unprofitable (in short term thinking, anyway; they may be very profitable for men as a group, long term).  It’s an obvious point but it bears repeating:  prejudice resists evidence.  The market cannot cure problems that prejudice bars it from perceiving.

As for why women do not, in these studies, suffer from the same bias (or do not suffer to the same degree), it's not that women are especially rational as compared to men; it's simply that, to quote the immortal philosopher, Douglas Adams:

It is difficult to be sat on all day, every day, by some other creature, without forming an opinion about them. On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to sit all day, every day, on top of another creature and not have the slightest thought about them whatsoever.

Ann Lipton | Permalink


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