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Activist Choice Homophily And The Crowdfunding Of Female Founders

J. Greenberg, Ethan Mollick
Published 2016 · Psychology

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Homophily is among the most cited and studied mechanisms in the social sciences; its ability to explain a wide range of phenomena is well established, and it can accommodate a broad range of forms of likeness. Despite this breadth, comparatively little research exists to distinguish the mechanisms underlying choice homophily that link these varied bases and outcomes. By examining the drivers of choice homophily, we develop the concept of activist choice homophily, where the basis of homophilic attraction is not merely dyadic similarity but rather perceptions of shared structural barriers stemming from a common social identity based on group membership. We theorize how this form of choice homophily differs from interpersonal choice homophily, which emerges from the perceived similarity between two individuals, as well as from induced homophily at the structural level. Using data from a laboratory experiment, we find evidence that activist choice homophily predicts (and largely mediates) the choice of female participants to donate to a crowdfunding project proposed by a female founder. Consistent results emerge in real-world data from the world’s largest crowdfunding platform.
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