Psychology: Affecting Your Facebook Friend Requests, Roommate Options, and Job Opportunities


Let’s say you are 20 something or 30 something year old, looking to create your first nesting egg outside your parents home, to save a few pennies you decide to look for a roomie, not only to share in the financial burden of living on your own but to share experiences, life challenges, and daily struggles. But, as presented on an NPR broadcast of the Hidden Brain the likelihood of you being considered a “roommate match” depends on if your name is Brad or Jamal.

African or African-American sounding names versus white sounding names decreased your chances of finding an apartment and roommate match on popular sites like as much as 65 to 75 percent!

The alarming part of this psychological analysis is that this bias was not exactly deliberate, more often than not the racial psychology behind picking a roommate or not, based on name, was not deliberate and was actually an action of the subconscious. Moreover, the bias was not only exhibited by white people but minorities, specifically black people as well.



Professor Michael Luca of the Harvard Business School decided to push the question of subconcious racial bias further specifically for the largest renting market in the world – Airbnb. Luca and his team sent 6500 Airbnb requests using the names Brad and Jamal. Jamal received roughly 15 percent less approval on his requests than Brad, holding all else constant.

Airbnb again is the largest rent lodging platform currently in the world. Discrimination on this platform translates to discrimination in the housing market, and the discrimination was seen across the brand – meaning white hosts and black hosts.

Kiev, Ukraine - August 26, 2013 - A collection of well-known social media brands printed on paper and placed on plastic signs. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and Tumblr logos.

Facebook Requests

A study also determined that an individual accepts Facebook requests based on the color (light skin vs dark skin) of the individual sending the request, with more white people choosing to accept friend requests from light-skinned people than dark-skinned people.

The Black and White Labor Gap

According to, “It is now painfully clear that African-Americans are still facing depression-like unemployment levels. Policymakers should obviously address the overarching problem of unemployment in whatever plan comes together…but there are unique structural obstacles that prevent African-Americans from fully benefiting from economic and labor market growth—obstacles that deserve particular attention when unemployment rates for African-Americans stand at the highest levels since 1984”.

This may need to include analysis of “Brad” and “Jamal” as the system sharing market (sharing economy) continues to produce economic issues perpetuating long-term disparities.