Coate and Loury (1993) suggest the impact of affirmative action on a negative stereotype is theoretically ambiguous leading to either: a benign equilibrium in which affirmative action eradicates the negative stereotype and leads to equal proportional representation of the two groups; or alternatively a patronising equilibrium in which the stereotype persists. The current paper examines this theoretical ambiguity within the context of a laboratory experiment. Although benign and patronising equilibria are equally plausible in theory, the laboratory experiments easily replicate most features of the benign equilibrium, but diverge from the theoretically predicted patronising equilibrium.
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