Online peer-to-peer markets, such as Airbnb, often include profile photos of sellers to reduce anonymity. Ert, Fleischer, and Magen (2016) found that more trustworthy-looking, but not more attractive-looking, Airbnb hosts from Stockholm charge higher prices for similar apartments. This suggests that people are willing to pay more for a night in an apartment if the host looks trustworthy. Here, we present a pre-registered replication testing how photo-based impressions of hosts’ attractiveness and trustworthiness influence rental prices. We extend previous investigations by (a) controlling for additional features related to price (e.g., the apartment's location value), (b) testing for an influence of other host features, such as race and facial expression, and (c) analyzing a substantially larger sample of apartments. An analysis of 1,020 listings in New York City showed that more attractive-looking, but not more trustworthy-looking, hosts charge higher prices for their apartments. Compared to White hosts, Black (but not Asian) hosts charge lower prices for their apartments. Hosts who smile more intensely in their profile photo charge higher prices. Our results support the general conclusion that people rely on profile photos in online markets, though we find that attractiveness is more important than trustworthiness.
- First impressions
- Peer-to-peer markets