Matching Across Sorority Rush: Learning in a Dual-Sided Matching Context

Student Author(s)

Laura English

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Peter Boumgarden

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This paper explores learning in dual sided markets, a context initially described by Gale & Shapley (1967) in their exploration of college wait list decision-making. Since their initial research, we have seen an expansion of work on matching in dual side markets by, amongst others, Alvin Roth whose research on organ transplants and the sorority rush process earned him the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics. This paper expands Mongell and Roth’s (1991) study of the sorority rush process by including a wider range of behavioral motivators. While Mongell and Roth assumed perfect information, utility maximizing homogenous players, and attitude stability amongst other things, we relax the assumptions of attitude stability and homogeneous agents and therefore model the process by including personality and network perspectives. In this context and with these assumptions, we model learning of participants across the rush process in three different ways: learning by motivated reasoning, learning from interaction with the houses, and learning from one’s peers. Learning from motivated reasoning (Kunda, 1990) is a process of seeking confirmation of initial opinions, a process that would be result in continuity of house ranking alongside a growing spread of house evaluations. Learning by interaction with houses involves attendance at the house events and also the interpretation of signals sent from the house—signals like rejection from events not open to the public. In this approach, attitudes would be shaped by rejection, where either rejection acts as a signal of scarcity and therefore drives evaluation up, or rejection would cause house devaluation as a way to protect one’s identity. In regards to learning from one’s peers, we recognize that girls don’t enter this process alone and therefore formally model the influence of the attitudes of one’s peers on a girl’s attitudes over time. Across the learning mechanisms, we also drop the assumption of homogenous individuals and therefore account for how differences in self-esteem moderate the learning process. Our model is tested using panel survey data during the sorority rush process at a small Christian liberal arts college. The results from this study help us to better understand the way individuals form their attitude toward a given house or in a larger context, sort themselves into organizations across a given market. Initial findings suggest learning does occur but it is a complex mix of the outlined mechanisms.

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