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Sexual-orientation discrimination and biological attributions: experimental evidence from Russia
Baghumyan, Gayane
Understanding what drives discriminatory behavior is important in order to identify the best strategy to combat it. In this study, I exogenously manipulate participants’ beliefs about the origins of sexual orientation by providing evidence that supports biological causes of\nhomosexuality. I employ money allocation tasks to measure discrimination. This allows me to causally identify the impact of information on discriminatory behavior. I first document the prevalence of discrimination against individuals with same-sex partners in Russia. On\naverage, roughly 54% of participants exhibit discriminatory behavior against profiles with same-sex partners by allocating 16 percentage points less money to them. Further, the results suggest that exposure to evidence on the biological causes of homosexuality negatively affects discriminatory behavior. Participants in the treatment group allocate less money to profiles with same-sex partners, relative to participants in the baseline group. Potential rationales for this behavior could include the following: (i) the provision of information that contradicts existing beliefs might cause cognitive dissonance, triggering irritation and intensifying discriminatory tendencies, (ii) the information might foster beliefs that individuals in same-sex partnerships are fundamentally ’other’ - even at a biological level - thereby widening the perceived social gap between participants and these sexual minority groups and fostering discrimination further.

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