2015 Student Research Conference:
28th Annual Student Research Conference

The Meritocracy of Shark Tank: The Impact of Gender, Race, Age, and Attractiveness on Funding Business Proposals
Melissa L. Stockwell*, Samuel Hatala, Evan C. Bruce, Deyvnn C. Campbell, Priyanka Prabhu, Max V. McDermott, Taylor M. Moore, Jared S. Luebbert, Danny L. Hearst, Emily E. Koenig, and Elizabeth S. Rehfeldt
Dr. Mark Hatala, Faculty Mentor

This study examined ninety-four contestants on the first two years of the ABC television show Shark Tank in terms of how gender, race, age, and perceived attractiveness impacted whether their business received funding and how much money they were offered. Characteristics such as gender, race, and age are protected classes in terms of US Federal anti-discrimination law, and so systematic bias in terms of these factors is important. Logistic regression analysis showed that although female contestants were perceived as more attractive than men (p<.001) and younger people were perceived as more attractive than older people (p<.001), there were no significant differences in whether a business was funded or how much funding it received. Perhaps the investors are successful precisely because they are able to tune out biases and judge contestants purely on the merits of their business ideas instead of factors such as gender, race, age, or attractiveness.

Keywords: gender, race, attractiveness, age

Topic(s):Psychology

Presentation Type: Poster

Session: 10-3
Location: GEO-SUB
Time: 3:30

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