Attribution of Failure and Success in Strategic Settings

Lina Lozano

Attribution of Failure and Success in Strategic Settings

Lina Lozano (New York University Abu Dhabi)

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During our educational and professional lives, we face failures and successes that we need to justify to ourselves and others. In most cases, failure and success are the results of an unknown combination of both internal factors (i.e., own ability and exerted effort) and external factors that are outside one’s control (i.e., others or luck). The evidence suggests that when people attribute the causes of failure and success, they often exhibit a "self-attribution bias" -attribute success to their merit and failure to external sources- to maintain self-esteem. In this project, we study an additional reason for the self-attribution bias, a strategic one. We use an online experiment to test how individuals attribute noisy feedback when the source of the outcome can be due to their ability or someone else’s ability. Moreover, following recent evidence on gender differences in attribution biases, we also test whether men and women use different failure and success justifications and study the consequences of it in a hiring context. Understanding the nature and economic consequences of gender differences in attribution of failures/successes is crucial, as it could be one of the causes of the observed gender gaps in the labor market such as the under-representation of women in top-level positions.


Lina Lozano is a postdoctoral associate at the Center for Behavioral Institutional Design (C-BID), at New York University Abu Dhabi. Lina earned her PhD in Economics from the Department of Economics at Maastricht University. Her research primarily explores the intersections of Experimental and Behavioral Economics with a focus on gender dynamics. She investigates topics such as attribution biases, stereotypes, sexual consent, the impact of risk attitudes and beliefs on individuals’ competitive behaviors, and bargaining behavior. Her interests extend to gender economics, applied microeconomics, and social identity, where she seeks to understand the underlying patterns that influence economic decisions and workplace dynamics.