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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 11, 2022

Familiarity and Race Bias: Evidence from a Television Competition (and the Case for More Women Judges?)

  • Bruno Z. Chong and Marco Z. Chong EMAIL logo


While social interaction is claimed to help reduce racial bias, the evidence is mixed. We argue that not only interaction, but familiarity among agents may help reduce race bias. We use new data from MasterChef, a nationally syndicated television competition that cover 10 years. We find that familiarity does not help reduce race bias. When judges are all Caucasian they appear to favor Caucasian contestants and set back minority contestants in the final placements. Interestingly, we find an analogous finding with minority judges. Female judges are the only ones who show no bias.

JEL Classification: J71; J79; Z19

Corresponding author : Marco. Z. Chong, Bethesda-Chevy Chase HS, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA, E-mail:


We are very grateful to Michele Baggio, Yulia Valdivia and Luisa Zanforlin, the editor, Giovanni Mastrobuoni and in particular to Alberto Chong for very useful comments and suggestions. Any errors are solely ours.


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Received: 2022-02-07
Accepted: 2022-03-17
Published Online: 2022-04-11

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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