Working Papers

"College rank, facial characteristics, and personality traits in China and the US" (Forthcoming at Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization), WP

Evidence from psychology and finance links facial characteristics to cognitive and non-cognitive abilities in males. Specifically, prenatal testosterone increases facial masculinity and mathematical aptitude, while circulating testosterone increases facial-width-to-height ratios (fWHRs) and effort in status-seeking behavior. To explore how these associations might influence college admissions, we analyze photos from 450 online social media profiles of alumni from 30 randomly selected Chinese universities ranked 1-200. Notably, Chinese universities use standardized tests almost exclusively for admissions. Thus, the rank of the college of alumni can serve as a measure of mathematical ability and effort in test preparation, and, thereby, the influences of testosterone. Supporting the influence of prenatal testosterone, alumni in "Hard" (i.e., mathematical) majors at high-ranked colleges exhibit significantly higher attractiveness. Supporting the circulating testosterone hypothesis, the fWHRs of alumni in all majors increase with college ranking. A comparison group of US alumni admitted on additional criteria showed no significant associations between facial features and college rank. These results suggest that college admissions based solely on standardized tests may introduce a non-uniform distribution of facial characteristics across universities, which is counteracted by admissions based on other criteria. Our study provides novel insights into the relationship between facial indicators of ability and personality and academic achievement in post-secondary education. 


"Is women’s competitiveness expressed vicariously through their husband’s income?"  (with Gahye (Rosalyn) Jeon).

Prior research focused on individual competitiveness' impact on the gender income gap. New study suggests that single men's competitiveness boosts their future income, while women's competitiveness doesn't directly affect their income. However, competitive women tend to marry high-earning men, motivating them to earn more and raising the household income. 

“Marrying for height” (with Pierre-Andre Chiappori, Yu Yang, Junsen Zhang). 

Height impacts socioeconomic inequality, especially for men. It influences mate selection, observed through online dating behavior. Medium and tall men prefer taller women, while all women prefer taller men. Short women show strong aversion to short men they later marry, even valuing height over income. Short women face marriage challenges due to height-related preferences. 

"Is female competitiveness in the labor and marriage markets influenced by gender identity norms?" (with Gahye (Rosalyn) Jeon)

Abundant empirical evidence shows a gender wage gap in favor of men across countries and time periods. Evidence of women’s lower competitiveness, based on a lower willingness to compete in laboratory labor experiments, has been proposed as a contributing factor to this gender wage gap. However, because of the traditional division of labor within households, women's competitiveness may not be expressed only in their own labor market performance. Rather, their competitiveness may also be expressed in the labor market performance of their spouse. We surveyed top graduate business students in China for their level of traditional gender identity (GI) and subjective expectations about their own and future spouse’s salary, work hours, and fertility. We use an all-pay auction experiment to derive a measure of competitiveness from the revealed psychological value of winning. Women anticipate a higher-earning spouse. Their competitiveness and GI increase their expected spousal wage gap. The effect of competitiveness on their own work hours depends on their GI: competitiveness increases own expected work hours for low-GI women GI but decreases for high-GI women. Furthermore, we show that anticipated fertility does not by itself decrease women’s labor supply, as might be expected based on prior studies, but only for women with high GI. [OD1] Thus, GI and competitiveness are potential moderating factors of subjective expectations that anticipate the gender wage gap ex-ante to labor and marriage market outcomes.

The Gender Difference in Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibrium Play” (with Gahye (Rosalyn) Jeon)

The mixed strategy Nash equilibrium (MNE) is a well-established concept in theory, but empirical and experimental support has been hampered by the need for a large sample size for across-subject choices and serial correlation for within-subject choices. We overcome these difficulties in testing for MNE play by exploiting a previously developed comparative statics effect for a common value pairwise all-pay auction which, strikingly, predicts that bids increase on perceived opponent’s risk tolerance, but not on the bidder’s own. Men bid as predicted, but women’s bids respond neither to their own nor to the opponent’s risk tolerance. Additionally, while the significance of men’s response to their beliefs about their opponent’s risk tolerance increases with the absence of mistakes on a pre-experiment quiz, women’s lack of response is unaffected by their quiz performance. These results are consistent with a prior finding of a gender difference in MNE play with a large sample of professional tennis players. We contribute by showing that MNE play can be tested with an ordinary sample of subjects in a laboratory setting. We show a gender difference in a factor that is likely crucial in most competitive situations: perceptions of the opponent’s risk tolerance.