Past seminars


2017-02-23 Sandro Ambuehl (University of Toronto)
The Effect of Financial Education on the Quality of Decision Making.
Room: E0.14, 16:00-17:15.
We introduce a method for measuring the quality of financial decision making built around a notion of financial competence, which gauges the alignment between individuals' choices and those they would make if they properly understood their opportunities. We use it to document the potential pitfalls of the types of brief rhetoric-laden interventions commonly used for adult financial education. Motivational rhetoric can render the effects of such interventions indiscriminate even when people appear to understand and internalize the targeted concepts. Conventional methods of evaluation involving financial literacy, self-reported decision strategies, and directional effects on choices do not reliably detect these deficiencies.


2017-01-26 Ed Hopkins (University of Edinburgh)
Lone Wolf or Herd Animal: An Experiment on Choice of Information and Social Learning.
Room: UvA REC E0.15, 16:00-17:15.
We report on an experiment that uses revealed preference to distinguish between rational social learning and behavioral bias. Subjects are asked to correctly guess the current binary state of the world. They must choose between receiving a private, noisy signal about the current state or observing the past guesses of other subjects in the prior period. The design varies the persistence of the state across time, which determines whether choosing social or private information is optimal, enabling us to separate subjects who choose optimally from those who excessively use either social information (“herd animals”) or private information (“lone wolves”). Aggregate behavior appears unbiased only because the number of lone wolves and herd animals is approximately equal. Our findings cannot be explained by existing behavioral models, with the possible exception of rational inattention.


2016-12-08 Michel Marechal (University of Zurich)
The Honest Citizen: Evidence from Nationwide Field Experiments.
Room: E5.22, 16:00 - 17:15.
We use nationwide field experiments to collect a behavioral measure of civic honesty in 68 cities across the United Kingdom, Poland and the United States. Specifically, we turned in 2,932 apparently lost wallets at public and private institutions and then measured whether the recipients contacted the owner to return the wallet. Despite the greater incentive to steal, we find that higher amounts of money left in a wallet increase the likelihood that people report the wallet. We argue that a combination of altruism and theft aversion provides a plausible mechanism for the increase in the reporting rate. An additional treatment and nationally representative survey experiments support the proposed mechanism. Overall, the results suggest that non-pecuniary motives to behave honestly can dominate material incentives, even under considerable stakes up to almost 100 US dollars.


2016-11-23 Matthias Sutter (University of Cologne)
Costly customers' mistakes in credence goods markets.
Room: E0.03, 16:00 - 17:15.
We present field experiments on the provision of credence goods and examine costly mistakes of customers when interacting with expert sellers. More precisely, we study how insurance coverage, perceived willingness to pay and inferior knowledge of customers can be exploited by expert sellers in the market for computer repairs. The effects are economically and statistically significant, increasing repair prices by up to 100%, depending on treatment. We are able to disentangle the sources of these price increases into overprovision and overcharging.


2016-11-03 Marie Claire Villeval (GATE Lyon)
Loss aversion and lying.
Room: E0.09, 16:00 - 17:15.
We theoretically show that agents with loss-averse preferences are more likely to lie to avoid receiving a financially bad outcome the lower the probability of the bad outcome. We also develop a method to estimate the distribution of dishonesty when agents privately observe the outcome of a random process but can report a different outcome. We find strong support for the loss aversion prediction by comparing lying percentages across the extant literature and within two new experiments. Changes in dishonesty operate through changes in expected payoffs, ceteris paribus, as predicted by loss aversion.


2016-10-27 Taisuke Ima (CALTECH)
Modeling and Measuring Time Preferences.
Room: E5.22, 16:00 - 17:15.
This talk covers a series of theoretical and empirical investigations into time preferences. We first present the first revealed-preference characterizations of the most common models of intertemporal choice, the exponentially discounted utility, the quasi-hyperbolic discounted utility, and the time-separable utility. Our characterizations take consumption data as primitives and provide non-parametric revealed-preference tests. We then apply our tests to 12 datasets from 10 recent studies using Convex Time Budget (CTB) design proposed by Andreoni and Sprenger (2012), and deliver new insights on choice datasets that had been analyzed by traditional parametric methods. Finally, we will discuss implications to the design of CTB experiments.


2016-10-20 Ben Greiner (Vienna University)
Aligning Incentives of Physicians: An Experimental Study of Two-part Tariffs and Separation of Prescription and Treatment in Health Care Markets.
Room: E5.22, 16:00 - 17:15.
Health care markets are plagued by physician’s incentives to overtreat patients who cannot verify whether the treatment they received was appropriate. In this study, we investigate whether a separation of prescription and treatment prices (a two-part tariff pricing) and a separation of prescribing and treating agents can mitigate overtreatment and hence increase health care market efficiency. We find that agency separation is more effective than two-part tariffs in reducing overtreatment, albeit a rise of undertreatment in the former institution. When both measures are implemented, market efficiency is not improved further because of fewer diagnosis take-up resulting from bargaining failures between prescribing physicians, treating physicians, and patients.


2016-10-13 Sonja Vogt (University of Zurich)
Changing cultural attitudes on female genital cutting.
Room: E0.10, 16:00 - 17:15
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Cultural evolutionary processes are often hypothesized to reduce behavioral variation within groups and stabilize variation between groups. This idea has been at the cen- ter of a longstanding debate about how culture affects the evolution of human social behavior. More recently, however, the idea has also figured repeatedly in development programs intended to promote improvements in human health and well-being. Female genital cutting is the most prominent example. Cutting affects millions of girls and women. It can lead to serious lifelong health problems, and governments and development agencies spend considerable resources promoting the abandonment of cutting. Programs promoting abandonment often assume that cutting persists because cultural evolutionary processes have trapped cutting societies in a self-reinforcing cutting equilibrium. If so, individual decision makers cannot afford to unilaterally deviate from the local cutting norm. An outside agency, however, with the right intervention, could po- tentially recruit the cultural evolutionary forces that currently favor cutting so that they favor abandonment. Although this view of female genital cutting has been extremely influential, it has not been rigorously tested. In a first study, we do so with data we collected using novel methods in 45 communities in Sudan. In contrast to the prevailing view, we find tremendous variation in attitudes and behavior at very local scales. In effect, cutting and non-cutting families live door-to-door, which is inconsistent with the notion that cutting persists because of local norms. In a second study, we developed interventions that exploit extreme local heterogeneity in attitudes about cutting. Specifically, we produced various telenovela-style movies that depict the members of an extended family as they confront each other with divergent views about whether the family should continue cutting. The movies dramatize discord within a family, and as a result they focus on heterogeneity that is as local as possible. The movies serve as treatments in two separate randomized controlled experiments in 127 communities in Sudan, and in our talk we will present results from these two experiments.


2016-09-29 John McNamara (University of Bristol)
Ecological Rationality and Environmental Complexity
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Room: E5.22, 16:00 - 17:15.
Behavioural ecologists have built complex models of optimal behaviour in simple environments. I argue that they need to focus on simple mechanisms that perform well in complex environments. This is, however, a difficult area for a modeller in that various modelling choices are not obvious. In particular, what complexities should a model world include and what sorts of rules should be considered? In my talk I consider an approach that is more limited but which sidesteps these difficulties; I will take rules that have evolved and ask what aspects of the environment make these rules ecological rational. I argue that various psychological phenomena can only be understood in adaptive terms if the environment in which the rules evolved was sufficiently complex. For example, rules may only make sense in adaptive terms if there are specific spatial or temporal heterogeneities. I illustrate this general theme using examples that show that lack of transitivity, contrast effects, aspects of prospect theory, and other behavioural phenomena which are often regarded as irrational can all have adaptive explanations.


2016-09-15 Anna Bayona Font (ESADE)
Supply Function Competition, Private Information, and Market Power: A Laboratory Study.
Room: E5.22, 16:00 - 17:15.
In the context of supply function competition with private information, we test in the laboratory whether—as predicted in Bayesian equilibrium—costs that are positively correlated lead to steeper supply functions and less competitive outcomes than do uncorrelated costs. We find that the majority of subjects bid in accordance with the equilibrium prediction when the environment is simple (uncorrelated costs treatment) but fail to do so in a more complex environment (positively correlated costs treatment). Although we find no statistically significant differences between treatments in average behaviour and outcomes, there are significant differences in the distribution of supply functions. Our results are consistent with the presence of sophisticated agents that on average best respond to a large proportion of subjects who ignore the correlation among costs. Experimental welfare losses in both treatments are higher than the equilibrium prediction owing to a substantial degree of productive inefficiency


2016-06-30 Charles Sprenger (University of California at San Diego)
Taxes and Procrastination: Evidence from Boston Tax-Filers.
Room: REC E 0.03, 16:00 - 17:15.
No abstract available.


2016-06-13 Amos Schurr (Ben-Gurion University Business School)
Eyes on the Price – Behavioral and Attentional Processes in Bidding Procedures.
Room: E1.51, 16:00 - 17:15.
Competitive Bidding is the most common method used by organizations and governments to receive bids from prospective suppliers. Although this method is meant to ensure objective consideration of proposals, recent findings reveal a Lower-Bid-Bias. Evaluators tend to favorably appraise the cheapest rather than the best bid. In five experiments, utilizing eye-tracking techniques and comparing professionals’ to novices’ decisions, we uncover the attentional and behavioral processes underlying the bias and examine its extent. Practical solutions and one analytical model will be discussed.


2016-05-26 Alexander Cappelen (Norwegian School of Economics)
False positives and false negatives in distributive choices.
Room: REC E 0.03, 16:00 - 17:15.
Abstract: Major tensions in the welfare debate concern how to handle situations in which we are unable to distinguish between those who are deserving and those who are undeserving. We report from the first economic experiment designed to study how people make trade-offs between giving money to some who are undeserving, false positives, and not giving money to some who are deserving, false negatives. We study the behavior of a representative sample of 2000 participants from the US and Norway, who were asked to distribute a sum of money between two groups of workers. In the first group all workers had done an assignment, but in the second group a number of the workers had falsely reported to have done the assignment. We find that the willingness to equalize income between the two groups is decreasing in the number such cheaters in the second group. A large majority of the participants in both countries is, however, more concerned with avoiding false negatives than with avoiding false positives. We also find that the aversion to false negatives is related to political preferences, with right-wing voters being more concerned with false negatives than left-wing voters. Our results suggest that political disagreements is not only about what should be viewed as deserving, but also about how to handle situations in which we cannot distinguish between those who are deserving and those who are undeserving.


2016-05-12 Martin Osborne (University of Toronto)
Information aggregation with costly reporting.
Room: Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam, Room 1.01., 16:00 - 17:15.
A group of individuals with common interests has to choose a binary option whose desirability depends on an unknown binary state of the world. The individuals independently and privately observe a signal whose distribution depends on the state. Each individual chooses whether to reveal her signal, at a cost. We show that if for all revelation choices of the individuals the option chosen by the group is optimal given the signals revealed and the set of individuals who do not reveal signals, then in a large group few signals are revealed, and these signals are extreme. When sufficiently informative signals exist, each individual reveals only signals that exceed a threshold and the group chooses the action appropriate for the state suggested by a signal above the threshold if and only if at least one signal is revealed. If the group can commit to use an anonymous decision rule that does not necessarily select the best option given the signals revealed, it can do no better, but if the rule can be non-anonymous then an improvement in welfare is possible.


2016-04-21 Adriaan Soetevent (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)
A Commercial Gift for Charity.
Room: REC E 1.51, 16:00 - 17:15.
Commercial firms are increasingly tying the sales of their products with donations to a charitable cause. Apart from a charitable motive, offering these charity-linked bundles could be a strategic instrument for firms to increase profits. We report the results of an experiment that investigates for different of these schemes whether they are able to increase profits net of the donation, and which donation scheme is most profitable. From a theoretical perspective, given rational agents, complete markets, and absent transaction cost, selling charity-linked bundles should not be profitable even when consumers are altruistic. We find however that sellers who donate 5% of their gross revenues or an equivalent absolute amount do attain significantly higher profits. No such effect is observed when the donation is limited to 2%. Offering charity-linked bundles considerably crowds out private donations by buyers.


2016-03-31 Ro'i Zultan (Ben Gurion University)
Punishment and Reward Institutions with Harmed Minorities.
Room: REC E 0.03, 16:00 - 17:15.
Public goods benefit the community without the power of exclusion. A public good, however, may be a public bad for certain members of the community, e.g., in not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) problems. When the benefits of the public good exceed the harm inflicted on a minority, it is still socially desirable to provide the public good, and efficient provision may also be Pareto improving if the harmed minorities are compensated. We study experimentally voluntary contributions to public goods where provision is efficient, but harms a minority in the group. We test the effects of punishment and reward institutions, with and without communication. With harmed minorities, contributions are not viewed as unequivocally desirable and are not increased by communication or punishment. With the reward institution, communication facilitates compensation. Consequently, contribution is no longer viewed as negative, and majority contributions increase. Taken together, our results establish that the existence harmed minorities who are an integral part of the group dramatically change perceptions and behavior in voluntary contributions to public goods. We suggest team reasoning as the underlying mechanism.


2016-03-10 Erik Mohlin (Lund University)
Observations on Cooperation.
Room: REC E 1.51, 16:00 - 17:15.
We study environments in which agents are randomly matched to play the Prisoner's Dilemma, and each player observes a few of the partner's past actions against other opponents. We depart from the existing literature in two key aspects: (1) we allow few agents in the population to be commitment types, and (2) we do not assume a time zero in which the entire community start interacting. We show that the presence of few committed agents destabilizes the existing mechanisms to sustain cooperation, and we present a novel mechanism (which is essentially unique) that sustains stable cooperation in many environments.


2016-02-25 Lisa Ordonez (University of Arizona)
Goals: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Room: E0.07, 16:00 - 17:15.
Hundreds of studies and almost half a century of research has shown us that “goals work.” The use of specific, challenging goals has been shown to increase effort, persistence, and performance on various tasks (the good). However, recent research demonstrates that goals can lead to unexpected and unwanted negative outcomes such as narrowed focus, risk taking (the bad) and, more disturbing, unethical behavior (the ugly). I will summarize a series of behavioral experiments conducted with colleagues showing how and why goals can lead to these unwanted outcomes and some suggestions for minimizing their impact.


2016-02-04 Daniel Chen (Institute for Advanced Studies Toulouse)
Covering: Mutable Characteristics and Perceptions of Voice in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Room: E0.04 , 16:00 - 17:15.
This paper demonstrates that voice-based snap judgments based solely on the introductory sentences of lawyers arguing in front of the Supreme Court of the United States predict outcomes in the Court. The connection between vocal characteristics and court outcomes is specific to perceived masculinity even when judgment of masculinity is based only on less than three seconds of exposure to a lawyer’s speech sample. Although previous studies suggest a significant role of vocal characteristics in the court room, prior to our work none has identified a definitive connection between such characteristics and court outcomes holding the content of the speech effectively constant. Using data on all oral arguments made by male lawyers between 1999 and 2013, we find that roughly 30% of the association between voice-based masculinity and court outcomes comes from within-male lawyer variation, whereas 70% comes from between-male lawyer variation. Moreover, voice-based first impressions predict both male and female lawyers’ court outcomes, but in different ways: males are more likely to win when they are perceived as less masculine, whereas females are more likely to win when they are perceived as more feminine. Ratings of male lawyers by male subjects and female lawyers by female subjects were more predictive of court outcomes. Liberal justices were more likely to vote against male lawyers perceived as more masculine while conservative justices were more likely to vote for female lawyers perceived as more feminine. Pre-trial case characteristics were not correlated with voice characteristics. Correlations between perceived masculinity and court outcomes were stronger among petitioners coming from private firms. In mechanism experiments, male voices perceived as more masculine were rated as more likely to win, but the correlation was halved when information or incentives for accuracy was provided. Our findings suggest that vocal characteristics may be relevant in even as solemn a setting as the Supreme Court of the United States, where correlations between malleable advocate characteristics and high-stakes outcomes should not persist if law firms and advocates adjust their behavior to eliminate such correlations.


2016-01-18 Michele Belot (University of Edinburgh)
Mind, Behaviour and Health - A Randomized Experiment.
Room: E0.22 (UvA Roeterseiland), 16:00-17:15.
This paper investigates to what extent behavioural traits, such as patience, risk aversion and self-control are trainable. If they are, this would open new prospects to improve lifestyle choices and health. We conduct a randomised field experiment with 139 subjects to investigate the effects of a psychological training intervention - consisting of mindfulness training - affects patience, risk aversion and self-control. We also measure the effects of the intervention on a range of health-related behaviours. We do not find strong evidence that mindfulness training changes decision-making processes. We find evidence that it reduces reported levels of stress, but the effects on health-related behaviours are mixed.


2015-12-17 Seda Ertac (Koc University)
CANCELLED (will be postphoned, check back later).
Room: , 16:00-17:15.
No abstract available.


2015-12-08 Roberto Galbiati (Sciences Po)
Voters’ Response to Public Policies: Evidence from a Natural Experiment.
Room: E1.50 (UvA Roeterseiland), 16:00-17:15.
This paper analyzes the voters’ response to a public policy by exploiting a natural experiment arising from the 2006 Collective Clemency Bill in Italy. The design of the Bill created idiosyncratic incentives to recidivate across pardoned individuals. Our results show that these individual incen- tives created different policy effects across municipalities. Cities where the incentives to recidivate of pardoned individuals resident in that municipality were higher, experienced a higher recidivism rate. At the same time, a higher incentive to recidivate at the municipal level lead to: a) newspapers reporting more crime news relative to the pre-pardon period (as well as more crime news involving pardoned individuals); b) voters holding worse beliefs on the incumbent government’s crime con- trol policies. Finally, the incumbent government’s experienced a worse electoral performance in the April 2008 elections relative to the opposition coalition in municipalities where pardoned individu- als had a higher incentive to recidivate. Overall, we provide direct empirical evidence showing that voters receive private signals consistent with the effects of public policies. In turn, they use these information to form their posterior beliefs on the quality of the incumbent government’s policies. Ultimately, voters keep the incumbent government accountable by conditioning their vote on their posterior beliefs.


2015-11-26 Holger Herz (University of Zurich)
Economic Preferences, Dropout from Education, and Transition to the Labor Market.
Room: E0.10 (UvA Roeterseiland), 16:00-17:15.
Evidence suggests that acquiring human capital is related to better life outcomes, yet young peoples’ decisions to stop or continue acquiring human capital are still poorly understood. In this paper, we investigate the role of economic preferences and behavioral biases in such decisions. Using a data set that is unique in its combination of real-world observations on student outcomes and experimental data on preferences, we first analyze dropout behavior in upper-secondary education and show that a low degree of patience is one of its key determinants. Further, we investigate the impact of preferences on students’ decisions to enter the labor market or to continue education at the end of upper-secondary education. Three months before termination of their current program, we find that present-biased students are less likely to have concrete continuation plans, and that more loss averse students are more likely to enter the labor market and to have a definite job offer. These findings empirically inform how students’ make decisions about the acquisition of human capital, and have implications for policy aimed at increasing human capital.


2015-11-20 Lise Vesterlund (University of Pittsburgh)
Breaking the Glass Ceiling with “No”: Gender Differences in Accepting and Receiving Requests for Non-Promotable Tasks.
Room: E 1.50, 16:00 - 17:15.
Gender differences in task allocations may help sustain vertical gender segregation in labor markets. If women hold more non-promotable tasks then they may progress more slowly than men in organizations. Examining environments where a volunteer must be found for a task that everyone prefers be completed by someone else (writing a report, serving on a committee, etc.) we find that, relative to men, women more frequently volunteer, more frequently are asked to volunteer, and more frequently accept requests to volunteer. These differences are consistent with the belief that women, less than men, say ‘No’ to request to perform non-promotable tasks.


2015-11-12 Double Seminar: Maja Adena (WZB Berlin)
Radio and the Rise of Nazis in Pre-War Germany.
Room: E0.07 (UvA Roeterseiland), 15:00-16:00.
How do the media affect public support for democratic institutions in a fragile democracy? What role do they play in a dictatorial regime? We study these questions in the context of Germany of the 1920s and 1930s. During the democratic period, when the Weimar government introduced pro-government political news, the growth of Nazi popularity slowed down in areas with access to radio. This effect was reversed during the campaign for the last competitive election as a result of the pro-Nazi radio broadcast following Hitler’s appointment as German chancellor. During the consolidation of dictatorship, radio propaganda helped the Nazis to enroll new party members. After the Nazis established their rule, radio propaganda incited anti-Semitic acts and denunciations of Jews to authorities by ordinary Germans. The effect of anti-Semitic propaganda varied depending on the listeners’ predispositions toward themessage. Nazi radio was most effective in places where anti-Semitism was historically high and had a negative effect in places with historically low anti-Semitism.


2015-11-12 Double Seminar: Drazen Prelec (MIT)
Brain mechanisms of self-signaling, under oath.
Room: E0.07 (UvA Roeterseiland), 16:15-17:15.
Decisions often reveal something about of one’s preferences, to others but also to oneself. After the fact, this can be a source of pleasure or pain; before the fact, anticipation of these feelings can influence what one chooses to do. Such self-signaling of internal characteristics through actions is probably unique to humans, and is implicated in both self-control and in the maintenance of social norms. It also presents a challenge to economic and philosophical conceptions of rational action. I will briefly discuss theoretical approaches to self-signaling, and then turn to some recent behavioral and neuroimaging results obtained in our lab.


2015-10-22 Joshua Miller (Bocconi University)
Surprised by the Gambler's and Hot Hand Fallacies? A Truth in the Law of Small Numbers.
Room: E1.50 (UvA Roeterseiland), 16:00-17:15.
We find a subtle but substantial bias in a standard measure of the conditional dependence of present outcomes on streaks of past outcomes in sequential data. The mechanism is a form of selection bias, which leads the empirical probability (i.e. relative frequency) to underestimate the true probability of a given outcome, when conditioning on prior outcomes of the same kind. The biased measure has been used prominently in the literature that investigates incorrect beliefs in sequential decision making --- most notably the Gambler's Fallacy and the Hot Hand Fallacy. Upon correcting for the bias, the conclusions of some prominent studies in the literature are reversed. The bias also provides a structural explanation of why the belief in the law of small numbers persists, as repeated experience with finite sequences can only reinforce these beliefs, on average.


2015-10-08 Mohammed Abdellaoui (HEC Paris)
Temporal Resolution in Decision under Risk: Do We Need A More Descriptive Model?.
Room: E1.50 (UvA Roeterseiland), 16:00-17:15.
Few years after the seminal works of von Neumann & Morgenstern (1944) and Savage (1954) that established the formal and logical basis of expected utility (EU), it was observed that this model failed to recognize that decision makers might be non-neutral towards the timing of resolution of uncertainty (TRU). For instance, Markowitz (1959) and Mossin (1969) pointed out that choice between lotteries should take into account when the outcomes will become known (Machina, 1984). In fact, most economically important decisions such as investment, portfolio / risk management, and production, among others, typically involve delayed resolution of uncertainty. For many decisions, the TRU may generate anxiety or hopefulness about the final outcomes (e.g. prenatal diagnosis, stock owners selling decisions during a financial crisis). We propose an empirical investigation on non-neutrality towards the TRU where uncertainty is allowed to be resolved at a variable date t laying between now and a fixed horizon T, in which monetary gains are received. Non-neutral attitude towards the TRU is captured through three approaches. The first approach accounts for preference for early resolution through probability discounting. The second assumes Kreps & Porteus (1978) recursive expected utility. The third postulates a temporal version of rank-dependent utility, assuming that delayed resolution of uncertainty impact probability weighting rather than utility (as under Kreps and Porteus, 1978). Our data show that a combination of the first and the third approaches fits data in a satisfactory fashion.


2015-09-24 Gijs van der Kuilen (Tilburg University)
Measuring Multivariate Risk Preferences.
Room: E1.50 (UvA Roeterseiland), 16:00-17:15.
Many risky decisions involve tradeoffs between multiple attributes. According to theory, the cross-risk attitudes correlation aversion, cross-prudence and cross-temperance determine how risk preferences over multiple attributes co-vary and interact. We obtain model-free measurements of these cross-risk attitudes in three economic domains, viz., time preferences, social preferences, and preferences over waiting time. This first systematic empirical exploration of multivariate risk preferences provides evidence for assumptions made in economic models on inequality, labor, time preferences, saving, and insurance. We observe correlation seeking and cross-intemperance in a condition involving social preferences, which is in line with models predicting inequality aversion. Results from a condition involving time preferences cast doubt on the separability of utility across time, an assumption often invoked by models of inter-temporal decision making.


2015-06-25 Pedro Rey-Biel (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona)
Satisfaction and Payment with Experience Goods: Experimenting in the Theatre.
Room: JK 2.50, 15:00-16:15.
We take a new look at the relationship between utility derived from a product and willingness to pay by doing experiments with an experience good, theatre plays, in which audience members use a pay-what-you-want system for their tickets. Using several satisfaction measures, including ex-ante and ex-post questionnaires and facial recognition software, we find that, after controlling for observables, payment increases with the degree in which a product actually meets individual expectations.


2015-06-18 Ingela Alger (Toulouse School of Economics)
Evolution leads to Kantian morality.
Room: JK 2.50, 16:00-17:15.
What preferences or moral values should one expect evolution to favor? We provide a generalized deÖnition of evolutionary stability of heritable traits in arbitrarily large aggregative interactions under random matching that may be assortative. We establish stability results when these traits are strategies in games, and when they are preferences or moral values in games in which each playerís preferences or moral values are the playerís private information. We show that certain moral preferences, of a kind that exactly reáects the assortativity in the matching process, are evolutionarily stable. In particular, selÖshness is evolutionarily unstable as soon as there is any assortativity. We also establish that evolutionarily stable strategies are the same as those played in equilibrium by rational individuals with evolutionarily stable moral preferences. We provide simple operational criteria for evolutionary stability and apply these to canonical examples.


2015-05-28 Herve Moulin (University of Glasgow)
One dimensional prior-free mechanism design.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
The three perenial goals of prior-free mechanism design, efficiency, incentive compatibility (strategyproofness) and fairness (horizontal equity) are known to be incompatible for abstract voting (Gibbard-Satterthwaite (1974)), the dis- tribution of private goods (Hurwicz (1972) Serizawa (2002)), the provision of public goods (Green La¤ont (1977) Serizawa (1999)), and more. Two notable one-dimensional exceptions are voting with single-peaked preferences (Black (1958), Dummett and Farquharson (1961), Pattanaik (1974)) and dividing a non disposable commodity with convex private preferences (Sprumont (1991), Ching (1994)). We show that these three goals are still compatible in any collective decision problem where each agent cares about a one-dimensional parameter and prefer- ences are convex, provided the range of allocation pro…les is an arbitrary convex and closed set. We construct a mechanism equalizing bene…ts from a benchmark allocation, that is efficient, (strongly) groupstrategyproof, peak-only, continu- ous, and fair: it respects the symmetries of the problem and rules out envy between symmetric agents. Applications of our result include: the division of shares in a joint venture under quota and other linear constraints; the coordination of workloads between workers and managers, or between several teams in a production chain when inputs are substitutes or complementary; and the distribution of shipping loads under bilateral constraints. In contrast to the negative message of the seminal results, in the one-dimensional contexts we expect an embarrassment of riches, leaving much ‡flexibility to the mechanism designer.


2015-05-13 Carsten de Dreu (CREED and Department of Psychology, UvA)
The Neurobiology of Greedy Predation and Fear-Driven Defense in Economic Contests.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
Human cooperation often gives way to a desire for self-expansion, or to fear-driven tendencies to protect against such predatory tendencies in others. In fact, “a great proportion of all efforts in the world are employed in merely neutralizing one another…energies…spent by mankind in injuring one another, or in protecting against injury (John Stuart Mill).” Mill’s observation has its game-experimental analogue in predator-prey contests that are used here to unravel the neurobiological underpinnings of greedy predation and fear-driven defense. I will present “work in progress” (with Frans van Winden, Michael Giffin, Mariska Kret, Richard Ridderinkhof, and Ilja Sligte, among others) examining two key brain circuitries–the amydgala (involved in threat-detection) and the prefrontal cortex (involved in self-control), along with three neurohormonal modulators–oxytocin, cortisol, and testosterone. Results converge on the possibility that (i) greedy predation is relatively calculative, conditioned by the prefrontal cortex, and reduced by empathy-inducing oxytocin, whereas (ii) fear-driven defense is more intuitive, conditioned by the amygdala, and modulated by stress-regulating cortisol. A study using neuro-navigated Theta-Burst Stimulation suggests that activated (versus disrupted) prefrontal cortex reduces predation but also increased prey-defense. Accordingly, cooperation can be rescued, and wasteful conflict reduced, by increasing (prefrontal cortex modulated) self-control and risk-aversion among those desiring to increase relative wealth while, simultaneously, relaxing control and risk-aversion among those fearing possible predation.


2015-04-14 Dan Benjamin (Cornell University)
Biased Beliefs About Random Samples: Evidence from Two Integrated Experiments.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
This paper describes results of a pair of incentivized experiments on biases in probabilistic judgments about random samples. Consistent with the Law of Small Numbers (LSN), participants exaggerated the likelihood that short sequences of coin flips would be balanced between heads and tails. Consistent with the Non-Belief in the Law of Large Numbers (NBLLN), participants underestimated the likelihood that large samples would be close to 50 percent heads. However, we identify some shortcomings of existing models of LSN, and we find that NBLLN may not be as strong or stable as previous studies suggest. Our within-subject design of asking many different questions about the same data lets us disentangle the biases from: (i) possible rational alternative interpretations; and (ii) bin effects a la support theory, whereby the total probability assigned to outcomes systematically depends on the categories used to elicit beliefs. The bin effects are large and systematic, and controlling for them affects some results, but we find LSN and NBLLN even after removing bin effects as a confound.


2015-04-07 David Cesarini (New York University)
Wealth, Health, and Child Development: Evidence from Administrative Data on Swedish Lottery Players.
Room: Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam, 16.00-17.15.
We use administrative data on Swedish lottery players to estimate the causal impact of wealth on players' own health and their children's health and developmental outcomes. Our estimation sample is large, virtually free of attrition, and allows us to control for the factors ‒ such as the number of lottery tickets ‒ conditional on which the prizes were randomly assigned. In adults, we find no evidence that wealth impacts mortality or health care utilization, with the possible exception of a small reduction in the consumption of mental health drugs. Our estimates allow us to rule out effects on 10-year mortality one sixth as large the cross-sectional gradient. In our intergenerational analyses, we find that wealth increases children's health care utilization in the years following the lottery and may also reduce obesity risk. The effects on most other child outcomes, which include drug consumption, scholastic performance, and skills, can usually be bounded to a tight interval around zero. Overall, our findings suggest that correlations observed in affluent, developed countries between (i) wealth and health or (ii) parental income and children's outcomes do not reflect a causal effect of wealth.


2015-03-11 Zachary Grossman (University of California at Santa Barbara)
Silence is Golden: Communication Cost and Team Problem Solving.
Room: J/K 2.50 (Roeterseiland), 16:00-17:15.
We study team performance solving a complex class of logic problems, nonograms. The value of solving the puzzles quickly and the cost of sending messages are systematically varied. Either adding a bonus for fast solutions or a cost for sending message significantly increases the likelihood that the group is able to solve the problem quickly (faster than median). Groups communicate frequently and are almost always on task, but sending more messages seems to harm performance. This suggests that teams are harming performance rather than helping it.


2015-02-26 Stefan Trautmann (University of Heidelberg)
Understanding Bank-Run Contagion.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
We study experimental coordination games to examine through which transmission channels, and under which information conditions, a panic-based depositor-run at one bank may trigger a panic-based depositor-run at another bank. We find that withdrawals at one bank trigger withdrawals at another bank by increasing players’ beliefs that other depositors in their own bank will withdraw, making them more likely to withdraw as well. Importantly though, observed withdrawals affect depositors’ beliefs, and are thus contagious, only when depositors know that there are economic linkages between their bank and the observed bank.


2015-02-12 Martin Dufwenberg (University of Arizona/Bocconi)
Frustration and Anger in Games.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
The economic consequences of anger may be important, concerning e.g. pricing, traffic safety, violence, and politics. Drawing on insights from psychology, we develop a formal approach to exploring how frustration and anger, via blame and aggression, shape interaction and outcomes in economic settings.


2015-01-29 Anna Dreber (Stockholm School of Economics)
Using Prediction Markets to Estimate the Reproducibility of Science.
Room: J/K 2.50 (Roeterseiland), 12:00-13:15.
There is increasing concern about reproducibility in science. Factors contributing to a lack of reproducibility include low statistical power, the testing of hypotheses with low prior probability of being true, and publication bias. In a number of projects we are testing whether prediction markets can be used as a tool to assess the reproducibility of published scientific results. We compare prediction market forecasts to surveys of market participant’s individual forecasts. The prediction market also allows us to estimate probabilities for the hypotheses to be true. We show that such probabilities can be assigned to a hypothesis for different points in the testing process: before and after the replication has been performed, and even before the original study has been performed. We discuss in detail our first prediction market on the reproducibility of psychology studies from prominent psychology journals, which is part of the Open Science Collaboration Reproducibility Project.


2015-01-15 Matthew Embrey (Maastricht University)
Bargaining with a Residual Claimant: An Experimental Study.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
We experimentally investigate a bargaining environment in which players negotiate over a fixed payment to one player, while the other player receives the residual from a random pie realization after subtracting the fixed payment. Contrary to the intuition that risk exposure is detrimental, we show that residual claimants are able to extract a risk premium, which is increasing in risk exposure. In some cases the premium is so high that it is advantageous to bargain over a risky pie rather than a risk-less pie. Contrary to theory, the comparatively less risk averse residual claimants benefit the most. Moreover, bargaining frictions increase as risk increases, and we document more frequent disagreements as risk increases. When given the chance to choose a less or more risky distribution over which to bargain, residual claimants tend to choose the more risky distribution only when there is the possibility of an equal-split ex-post. Our results suggest that theoretical bargaining models require some separation between the determinants of bargaining power and fair compensation for risk exposure.


2014-12-11 Double Seminar: Martin Sefton (University of Nottingham)
Team Incentives and Leadership.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 15:00 - 17:30.
We study, experimentally, how two alternative incentive mechanisms affect team performance, and how a team chooses between alternative mechanisms. In our team production setting team output is either shared equally among team members or allocated by a team leader. We find that team output is higher when a leader has the power to allocate output. However, this mechanism also generates large differences between earnings of leaders and other team members. When team members can choose how much of team output is to be shared equally and how much is to be allocated by a leader, they tend to restrict the leader's power to distributing less than half of the pie.


2014-12-11 Double Seminar: Daniele Nosenzo (University of Nottingham)
The effects of voluntary participation on cooperation: entry or exit? .
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 15:00 - 17:30.
Individual cooperation for the provision of public goods is vital for human societies. However, individual material incentives to free-ride on others' contributions are detrimental to cooperation, especially when reputation and punishment mechanisms are absent. We study voluntary participation to public good provision as an alternative mechanism to reputation and punishment. Voluntary participation may foster public good contributions through two distinct mechanisms. On the one hand, cooperation may increase through assortative selection of interaction partners. On the other hand, the fact that participation is voluntary gives group members the opportunity to leave the group as a mean to resist exploitation by free-riders, thus reducing the incentives to free-ride. We examine the relative effectiveness of these two mechanisms in a one-shot two-person public goods game experiment. Across three treatments we vary the extent to which subjects can voluntarily participate in the game: in a Baseline treatment subjects are forced to take part into the public goods game. In an Entry treatment, before interacting in the game, subjects choose whether or not to opt in; if at least one player does not opt in, players receive an outside option payoff. In an Exit treatment, after having interacted in the public goods game (and having learned the outcome of the interaction), players can opt out of the game and secure the outside option payoff. Our results point to the crucial relevance of the exit option over the entry one in increasing public good provision. Assortative selection of interaction partners seems to play a minor role in our setting, whereas the threat of retaliation through exits seems to be a powerful force that disciplines free-riding.


2014-12-04 Rebecca Morton (New York University)
Political Polarization and Support for Reform: Experimental Evidence from Egypt.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
We examine whether political polarization in elections is an obstacle to reform in an incentivized laboratory experiment using natural ideological differences in Egypt. Specifically, we create political societies which subjects join based on ideological preferences. Then, voters choose between enacting a reform, which will lead to higher payoffs for all (but has a differential benefit for supporters of one of the political societies) versus not enacting the reform and everyone facing the same lower payoffs. We find that when voters are provided with information that support for the reform varies across ideological societies in previous sessions, they are significantly more likely to report that their vote choices are influenced by their society membership to a greater extent than when such information is not provided. We also find some evidence that the information influences voter choices in the election. Our results suggest that ideological polarization can impede reform in elections.


2014-11-27 Bertil Tungodden (Norwegian School of Economics)
Sorry, this seminar has been cancelled.
Room: , .
No abstract available.


2014-11-20 Andreas Leibbrandt (Monash University)
This seminar has been cancelled.
Room: , 16.00-17.15.
No abstract available.


2014-10-09 Jon Levin (Stanford University)
Sales Mechanisms in Online Markets: What Happened to Internet Auctions?.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
Consumer auctions were very popular in the early days of internet commerce, but today online sellers mostly use posted prices. Data from eBay shows that compositional shifts in the items being sold, or the sellers offering these items, cannot account for this evolution. Instead, the returns to sellers using auctions have diminished. We develop a model to distinguish two hypotheses: a shift in buyer demand away from auctions, and general narrowing of seller margins that favors posted prices. Our estimates suggest that the former is more important. We also provide evidence on where auctions still are used, and on why some sellers may continue to use both auctions and posted prices. Link to paper: http://www.stanford.edu/~jdlevin/Papers/InternetAuctions.pdf


2014-09-25 Ben Vollaard (Tilburg University)
Turning a bad example into a warning. A natural field experiment into salience of law enforcement.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 13.00-14.15.
We present evidence that efforts to make law enforcement activity more salient at minimal cost greatly reduce illegal behavior. We conduct a natural field experiment into illegal disposal of household garbage on the sidewalk. In the control condition, law enforcement officers patrol the streets, and occasionally look for name and address identifiers in illegally disposed garbage bags. In a number of randomly selected locations, in addition to the regular surveillance activities, illegally disposed garbage bags were marked with bright yellow warning labels saying 'This bag has been found by law enforcement. 90 euro fine for illegal disposal'. We find residents to respond to the warning labels by reducing illegal disposal of garbage. We also find residents to become less likely to leave name and address identifiers in disposed garbage bags, which subverts law enforcement.


2014-09-11 Roberto Weber (University of Zurich)
Do Markets Erode Social Responsibility?.
Room: JK2.50, 16:00-17:15.
This paper studies socially responsible behavior in markets. We develop a laboratory product market in which low-cost production creates a negative externality for third parties, but where alternative production with higher costs mitigates the externality. Our first study, conducted in Switzerland, reveals a persistent preference among many consumers and firms for avoiding negative social impact in the market, reflected both in the composition of product types and in a price premium for socially responsible products. Socially responsible behavior is generally robust to varying market settings, such as increased seller competition and limited consumer information, and it responds to costs and prices in a manner consistent with a model in which positive social impact is a utility-enhancing feature of a consumer product. In a second study, we investigate whether market social responsibility varies across societies by comparing market behavior in Switzerland and China. While subjects in Switzerland and China do not differ in their degree of social concern in non-market contexts, we find that low-cost production that creates negative externalities is significantly more prevalent in markets in China. Across both studies, consumers in markets exhibit less social concern than subjects in a comparable individual choice context, though the difference is much smaller in Switzerland. (with Björn Bartling and Lan Yao)


2014-06-26 Marta Serra Garcia (UCSD)
Education and Intertemporal Choice: Can Interventions Reduce Time Inconsistency?.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
We examine the impact of a randomly assigned financial education program on adolescents' intertemporal choices, using an incentivized experiment with 994 participants. Time inconsistent choices as well as the choices inconsistent with the law of demand become less frequent among treated adolescents, compared to adolescents who did not participate in the program. Further, adolescents' intertemporal choices in the control group exhibit significant aggregate present-bias, while those in the treatment group do not. Hence, the educational intervention leads to more consistent intertemporal choices, both in the dimension of price (law of demand) and time.


2014-06-12 David Cooper (Florida State University)
Coordination with Endogenous Contracts: Incentives, Selection, and Strategic Anticipation.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
Existing work on overcoming coordination failure suggests that an exogenous increase in incentives to coordinate can help groups escape from the productivity trap, but the effect is far from perfect. Previous work on coordination games (Van Huyck, Battalio, and Beil, 1993), as well as related lab and field studies on incentives (i.e. Lazear, 2000; Dohmen and Falk, 2011), suggest that endogenous changes in incentives with self-selection into contracts will yield a larger effect than exogenously imposed contracts. Our experimental design allows us to confirm this prediction and decomposes the causes of this effect between the direct effect of changing incentives, selection, and strategic anticipation. We find that the difference between endogenous and exogenous contract is primarily due to selection. Fitting a structural model of learning to our data, the key feature needed to track the data is heterogeneity in initial beliefs. We use this model to predict a “zero sum” effect of incentive contracts.


2014-05-28 Arthur Robson (Simon Fraser University)
Biology and the Arguments of Utility.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
Why did evolution not give us a utility function that is offspring alone? Why do we care intrinsically about other outcomes, such as food, and what determines the intensity of such preferences? A common view is that such other outcomes enhance fitness and the intensity of our preference for a given outcome is proportional to its contribution to fitness. We argue that this view is incomplete. SpeciÖcally, we show that in the presence of informational asymmetries, the evolutionarily most desirable preference for a given outcome is determined not only by the significance of the outcome, but by the Agent's degree of ignorance regarding its significance. Our model also sheds light on the phenomena of peer effects and prepared learning, whereby some peer attitudes are more influential than others.


2014-05-22 Nora Szech (Karlsruher Institute of Technology)
Moral Transgression in the Pursuit of Excellence.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 15.00-17.15.


2014-05-22 Subhasish Chowdhury (University of East Anglia)
An Experimental Analysis of Anti-trust Enforcement under Avoidance.
Room: JK2.50, 15:00-17:00.
Competition law offenders use a multitude of avoidance activities – such as consulting with anti-trust experts, destroying or covering up of incriminating evidence, lobbying for favourable policy guidelines, restructuring of a firm’s finance – to reduce their potential anti-trust fines. This paper explores the effect of such activities on formation, activity and stability of cartels by means of a market experiment. We implement a 2x2 factorial design with and without the ability to incur avoidance activities vs. the existence (or non-existence) of a leniency. To the extent of our knowledge, we are the first to address avoidance activities from a behavioral perspective, and our results indicate that many of the theoretical predictions are confirmed in an experimental setting, while some critical results turn out to be different in the data. The results show that the possibility to avoid punishment may trigger more risk-averse firms to collude, which translates into a higher rate of cartel formation. We find that not only avoiding firms charge higher prices, while in general the possibility to use avoidance reduces the rate of price deviations; firms that engage in avoidance deviate more than twice as often when a leniency programme exists. Additionally, there is evidence that some firms utilize avoidance as an alternative means to avoid being punished for price deviations by other self-reporters.


2014-05-02 CREED-NYU Meeting (UvA and NYU)
CREED-NYU Meeting.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 09.00-16.45.
Workshop organized by Tinbergen/CREED and New York University. For more information about the program, please contact Theo Offerman (T.J.S.Offerman@uva.nl).


2014-04-17 Jonathan Woon (University of Pittsburgh)
Candidates, Campaigns, and Gender Differences in Political Behavior.
Room: J/K B.18 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 15.00-16.15.
We conduct experiments to investigate whether differences in behavior between men and women in political settings might contribute to the lack of diversity in many political decision-making bodies, focusing on decisions to become candidates and choices about campaign communication when group members’ payoffs depend on selecting the best member to complete a real effort task. We find that candidate decisions depend on the selection mechanism: men and women are equally likely to volunteer when the representative is chosen randomly, but that women are less likely to become candidates when the representative is chosen by an election (even controlling for task ability, beliefs, and risk preferences). With respect to campaign messages, the evidence is mixed: women tend to be more ambiguous and men tend to exaggerate more when the message space is unconstrained, but differences disappear when the message space is restricted.


2014-04-10 Alex Peysakhovich (the Human Cooperation Lab (Yale) and Harvard Program for Evolutionary Dynamics.)
Habits of Virtue: Creating norms of cooperation and defection in the laboratory.
Room: JK2.50, 16:00-17:00.
Cooperation between unrelated individuals is a key element of human behavior. So how can we explain the great variation in cooperative norms that has been observed across cultures? A potential answer comes from understanding the cognitive underpinnings of cooperation: individuals internalize the cooperative or selfish strategies that are successful in their daily social interactions. Thus, when forces such as repetition, reputation and sanctions effectively promote prosociality, they also cause individuals to adopt cooperation as a default response; and this intuitive predisposition towards cooperation then continues to operate even in one-shot anonymous interactions beyond the reach of these mechanisms. Here we provide experimental evidence for this hypothesis by creating in vitro cultures of cooperation or defection in the laboratory. Our subjects play a series of repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma games constructed to make cooperation either an advantageous or disadvantageous strategy. In doing so, we immerse our subjects in environments where both themselves and those around them are consistently cooperating or defecting. We then test whether these behaviors become internalized by examining behavior in a subsequent battery of one-shot anonymous interactions. As predicted, subjects randomized into the cooperative environment are substantially more prosocial afterward, as well as more likely to punish selfishness. We provide evidence that this acculturation effect is driven by the remodeling of cooperative intuitions. We also show that the baseline behavior of American college students (who developed under strong institutions) matches that of our in vitro cooperative environment. Furthermore, this effect extends beyond economic games: our in vitro cooperative culture causes subjects to be more trusting, as measured by a standard survey instrument used in cross-cultural studies. These results provide direct evidence for the social heuristics hypothesis and shed light on the co-evolution of norms and institutions.


2014-03-27 Michele Belot (University of Edinburgh)
The Spillover Effects of Monitoring: A Field Experiment.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
We provide field experimental evidence of the effects of monitoring in a context where productivity is multi-dimensional and only one dimension is monitored and incentivised. We hire students to do a job for us. The job consists of identifying euro coins. We study the effects of monitoring and penalising mistakes on work quality, and evaluate spillovers on non incentivised dimensions of productivity (punctuality and theft). We find that monitoring improves work quality only if incentives are large, but reduces punctuality substantially irrespectively of the size of incentives. Monitoring does not affect theft, with ten per cent of participants stealing overall. Our setting also allows us to disentangle between possible theoretical mechanisms driving the adverse effects of monitoring. Our findings are supportive of a reciprocity mechanism, whereby workers retaliate for being distrusted.


2014-03-20 Ragan Petrie (George Mason University)
The Effect of Decision Context on Risk Preferences of Children by Sex and Race.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
This project presents evidence on the heterogeneity of risk preferences of children by sex and race and shows that these differences might be driven more by decision context than innate differences in risk attitudes. Expressed preferences over identical risky prospects change depending on the context in which they are presented. Differences by race can be eliminated, and differences by sex can be reversed.


2014-02-20 Erwin Bulte (Wageningen University)
Corruption, Investments and Contributions to Public Goods: Experimental Evidence from Rural Liberia.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.


2014-02-13 Federico Valenciano (Universidad del País Vasco)
Unilateral vs. Bilateral link-formation: Bridging the gap.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
We provide a model that bridges de gap between two benchmark models of strategic network formation. Namely, Jackson and Wolinsky's conections model based on bilateral formation of links, and Bala and Goyal's two-way flow model, where links can be unilaterally formed. In the model introduced and studied here, a link can be created unilaterally, but when it is only supported by one of the two players the flow through the link suffers a certain decay, while when it is supported by both the flow runs without friction. When the decay in links supported by only one player is maximal (i.e. there is no flow) we have Jackson and Wolinsky's connections model without decay, while when flow in such links is perfect we have Bala and Goyal's two-way flow model. We study Nash, strict Nash and pairwise stability for the intermediate models.


2014-01-30 Joel Sobel (UCSD)
Persuasive Arguments.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
Social Psychologists have identified a tendency for groups composed of like-minded individuals to make decisions that are more extreme, but biased in the same direction as decisions taken by individual members of the group. This tendency is a called the group-polarization phenomenon. One explanation for the phenomenon is the ``persuasive argument theory.'' Loosely, the persuasive argument theory asserts that individuals become more convinced on their view when they hear new arguments that support their position and that group deliberations bring out these arguments. I provide one formalization of this theory and investigate the extent to which the persuasive argument theory leads to polarization and conditions under which group decisions are not necessarily better than decisions made by group members. I argue that group polarization is not necessarily a sign of non-optimizing behavior and does not require persuasive arguments, but that either when there is a conflict of interest between decision makers or limits on the ability to communicate, novel arguments will receive disproportional weight in deliberations and may lead to biased group decision making.


2014-01-23 DOUBLE SEMINAR Michal Krawczyk (Warsaw University)
Trust me, I am an economist. On suspiciousness in laboratory experiments.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 14.00-16.15.
This study investigates the eff ect of informing subjects that no deception will be used in a laboratory experiment. When implemented as a part of recruitment procedure, this information makes no diff erence in participants' suspiciousness. Conversely, no-deception reminders placed in the instructions substantially reduce self-reported suspiciousness but not actual (trust-dependent) behavior.


2014-01-23 DOUBLE SEMINAR Bettina Rockenbach (University of Cologne)
Consumer Social Responsibility.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 14.00-16.15.
The collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh, the fires in Pakistan garment factories, the working conditions at Nike, Foxconn and Amazon fired the public debate on socially responsible production of (western) firms. The public calls for political interventions and prompts firms to act socially responsible. But what about consumers? Are they able to enforce socially responsible production through their purchasing behavior? The fact that the market for socially responsible goods is small although the majority of questionnaire respondents say that they would pay a mark-up for those goods motivates our experimental investigation. We experimentally study small economies and vary the market form as well as the policy regulations in our treatments. The results guide us to new insights on market design promoting socially responsible production through consumer behavior.


2014-01-16 Maros Servatka (University of Canterbury)
Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Reciprocal Responses to Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission.
Room: JK2.50, 16:00-17:00.
Both the law and culture make a central distinction between acts of commission that overturn the status quo and acts of omission that uphold it. In everyday life acts of commission often elicit stronger reciprocal responses than do acts of omission. In this paper we compare reciprocal responses to both types of acts and ask whether behavior of subjects in three experiments is consistent with existing theory. The design of the experiments focuses on the axioms of revealed altruism theory (Cox, Friedman, and Sadiraj, 2008) that make it observationally distinct from other theories. We find support for this theory in all three experiments.


2013-12-19 Michalis Drouvelis (University of Birmingham)
The Effects of Anger and Happiness on Pro-Social Behaviour.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
Emotions are commonly expressed in human societies; however, their consequences on economic behaviour have received only limited attention. This paper investigates the effects of induced positive and negative emotions on cooperation and sanctioning behaviour in a one-shot voluntary contributions mechanism game, where personal and social interests are at odds. We concentrate on two specific emotions: anger and happiness. Our findings provide clear evidence that our measures of social preferences are sensitive to subjects’ current emotional states. Specifically, angry subjects contribute, on average, less than happy subjects and overall welfare as measured by average net earnings is lower when subjects are in an angry mood. We also find that how punishment is used is affected by moods: angry mood subjects punish harsher than happy mood subjects, ceteris paribus. To this extent, we show that anger, when induced, causes a negative impact on economic behaviour.


2013-11-21 Rosemarie Nagel (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Correlated Shocks in Keynesian Beauty Contest Game: An Experimental Study.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
We extend the Beauty Contest Game by an idiosyncratic shock for each player based on the theoretical paper “Sentiments and Aggregate Demand Fluctuations”by Benhabib, Wang, and Wen (2013). The payoff for a player depends on the distance between his choice and the sum of the idiosyncratic shock and other players´ choices. Prior to deciding, players receive a precise or imprecise signal about their shock. While in the original game there is a unique equilibrium in which all choose zero, in the game with signals there are multiple equilibria. As a theoretical result the games with signals are computationally more difficult and also the coordination issue is much more difficult. However, the experimental results show that coordination is much easier when shocks are present than when not as measured by realized payoffs. The reason is that in the new games the shocks serve as anchors, which are not present in the original game where each player comes with his homegrown belief, modeled as a level k theory.


2013-10-23 Uri Gneezy (UCSD)
Why don't people lie more?.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
No abstract available.


2013-10-17 Joan Esteban (CSIC Barcelona GSE)
Ethnic Diversity and Civil Conflict.
Room: TI Amsterdam, Room 1.60, 16.00-17.15.
Over the second half of the twentieth century, conflicts within national boundaries have become increasingly dominant. One third of all countries have experienced civil conflict. Many (if not most) such conflicts involve violence along ethnic lines. Based on recent theoretical and empirical research, this paper provides evidence that pre-existing ethnic divisions do influence social conflict. The analysis also points to particular channels of influence. Specifically, it is shown that two different measures of ethnic division — polarization and fractionalization — jointly influence conflict, the former more so when the winners enjoy a “public” prize (such as political power or religious hegemony), the latter more so when the prize is “private” (such as looted resources, government subsidies or infrastructures). The available data appear to stand in strong support of existing theories of inter-group conflict. Our argument also provides indirect evidence that ethnic conflicts are likely to be instrumental, rather than driven by primordial hatreds. (joint work with Laura Mayoral and Debraj Ray)


2013-10-10 Astrid Hopfensitz (Toulouse School of Economics)
The Modular Nature of Trustworthiness Detection.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
The capacity to trust wisely is a critical facilitator of success and prosperity, and it has been conjectured that people of higher intelligence were better able to detect signs of untrustworthiness from potential partners. In contrast, this article reports five Trust Game studies suggesting that reading trustworthiness of the faces of strangers is a modular process. Trustworthiness detection from faces is independent of general intelligence (Study 1) and effortless (Study 2). Pictures that include non-facial features such as hair and clothing impair trustworthiness detection (Study 3) by increasing reliance on conscious judgments (Study 4), but people largely prefer to make decisions from this sort of pictures (Study 5). In sum, trustworthiness detection in an economic interaction is a genuine and effortless ability, possessed in equal amount by people of all cognitive capacities, but whose impenetrability leads to inaccurate conscious judgments and inappropriate informational preferences.


2013-09-19 Sacha Kapoor (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Having it Easy: Consumer Discrimination and Specialization in the Workplace.
Room: J/K 2.50 (UvA, Roeterseiland), 16.00-17.15.
Most studies analyzing the adjustments of workers to discrimination focus on sorting decisions, such as occupations workers pursue. We instead analyze on-the-job adjustments, focusing on the effects of discrimination by consumers. Specifically, using extraordinary data from a large-scale restaurant, we investigate the! effects of an outward yet immutable physical trait - symmetry of the facial attributes of workers - on trade offs workers make, and the extent to which the trade offs are shaped by consumer preference for the trait. A large scale restaurant is well-suited for studying these issues because, as with many jobs in the services sector, workers must trade off quality of service for the quantity of consumers they serve. Using a combination of observational data and data generated by a field experiment, we find consumers have a preference for the trait and that preferred workers deliver lower service quality. Instead they specialize in serving more consumers. The findings imply that when outward physical traits substitute for service quality in consumer preferences, preferred workers specialize in tasks having no services component because consumers punish them less for poor performance. We conclude that consumer discrimination shapes comparative advantage and, in doing so, generates earnings inequality in the workplace.


2013-08-23 ABEE 2013 (2 day symposium)
A Dialogue Between Laboratory Experiments and Neuroeconomics.
Room: Het Trippenhuis, Amsterdam, August 23-24.
In 2013 the Amsterdam School of Economics of the University of Amsterdam will host the Amsterdam Symposium on Behavioral and Experimental Economics for the fifth time. This year's symposium is entitled "A Dialogue Between Laboratory Experiments and Neuroeconomics". Go to the ABEE website for more information. You can register by sending an e-mail to abee2013-feb@uva.nl.


2013-06-20 Gary Charness (UCSB)
Let’s talk: How communication affects contract design.
Room: JK.2.50, 16:00-17:15.
We study experimentally how communication changes the relative frequency and effectiveness of contracts types where sellers choose unenforceable trade quality after observing a post-contractual cost shock. Without communication, we find that rigid contracts (where the price cannot be changed) are slightly more frequent and lead to higher earnings for both buyer and seller. By contrast, with free-form communication, flexible contracts (where the buyer can voluntarily increase the price paid) are much more frequent and yield higher earnings, both for buyers and sellers. Also, both buyer and seller earn considerably more from flexible contracts with communication than from rigid ones without communication. A treatment with a form of restricted communication finds little effectiveness, although earnings for sellers with flexible contracts are slightly higher. Our results show quite strongly that free-form communication, a normal feature in contracting, can remove the potential cost of flexibility (disagreements caused by conflicting perceptions). Analysis of the free-form communication content shows that the underlying factors that facilitate this effect are clarification of the amount to be added to the price after a cost shock and establishing a good personal rapport through communication.


2013-04-18 Alexander Sebald (University of Copenhagen)
Room: UvA REC J/K 2.50, 16.00 - 17.15.
No abstract available.


2013-03-14 Dan Levin (Ohio State University)
Separating Insight from Bayesian Updating: An Experimental Investigation.
Room: UvA REC J/K 2.50, 16.00 - 17.15.
Through a series of decision tasks involving colored cards, we provide separate measures of Bayesian updating skills and ability to draw insights. We apply these measures to (and are the first to study) a common-value Dutch auction, whose format is more salient than the strategically equivalent first-price auction and "silent Dutch" formats in hinting that one should condition one’s estimate of the value on having the highest bid. Both Bayesian updating skills and ability to draw insights are shown to help subjects correct for the winner’s curse, as does the saliency of the active-clock Dutch format.


2013-02-21 Shaul Shalvi (Ben Gurion University)
Cheating for our loved ones: Oxytocin drives group supporting dishonesty.
Room: UvA REC J/K 2.50, 16.00 - 17.15.
How far will people go for their loved ones? Are people willing to lie for the benefit of those they care about? What are the biological foundations for such dishonesty? And what are the underlying psychological processes driving it? I will present experimental evidence suggesting that oxytocin, a hormone released during bonding behaviors such as hugging or breastfeeding and associated with trust and cooperation, plays a role in modulating group supporting dishonesty. The findings evoke the question - is lying always immoral?


2013-01-30 Bernd Irlenbusch (University of Cologne)
Moral hypocrisy.
Room: UvA REC J/K 2.50, 16.00 - 17.15.
Positioning moral motivations within the framework provided by Schwartz’ (1992) values theory, we ran three dictator game studies (total N = 256) investigating moral integrity and moral hypocrisy. We adapted Batson’s (et al., 1997; et al., 1999; et al., 2002) landmark research design into the experimental economics laboratory (Study 1), and showed that the behavioral inconsistency – out of 64 dictators, all 26 who chose to flip a coin to determine the allocation of money ended up with the self-favoring outcome – revealed in such a design is indeed indicative of dishonest claims to morality (arguably the core of moral hypocrisy), and not overpowered moral integrity. Supporting this interpretation, dictators who masked their selfishness behind the coin flip were motivated by high Conformity values (Study 1), and thereby similar to participants who made more obviously disingenuous claims to morality (Study 2). Further, dictators did generally not select the coin flip in case the result could not be rigged (only four out of 32 dictators did this; Study 3). Universalism and Benevolence values were predictive of moral integrity (Studies 1 and 3). Morality ratings of behavior generally showed both self-serving and outcome bias.


2013-01-17 Micheal Kosfeld (Goethe University Frankfurt)
The Dark Side of Solidarity.
Room: UvA REC J/K 2.50, 14.00 - 15.15.
This paper investigates the hypothesis that solidarity obligations hinder entrepreneurial activity and thus investment and long term economic progress. We conduct a field experiment and a real effort experiment with small entrepreneurs in Burkina Faso in which participants are made a lucrative job offer under different treatment conditions. Results show that implicit and explicit solidarity obligations as well as the expectation of future demands for financial support lead to a significant reduction in entrepreneurial activity.


2012-11-29 Andreas Ortmann (University of New South Wales)
Social Impact Bonds: Theory and Evidence.
Room: UvA REC J/K 2.50, 16.00 - 17.15.
No abstract available.


2012-11-08 Aniol Llorente-Saguer (Max Planck Institute)
Divided Majority and Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment.
Room: UvA REC J/K 2.50, 16.00 - 17.15.
In this paper we study the properties of the plurality and approval voting in the case in which the majority is divided between two alternatives as a result of information imperfections and the minority backs a third alternative, which the majority views as strictly inferior. The majority thus faces two problems: aggregating information and coordinating to defeat the minority candidate. We show that under plurality voters have to concentrate all their strength in fighting one of this problems. With approval voting instead, voters can face both problems simultaneously. We then test the pivotal voter model in the lab, and we observe that most predictions are indeed satisfied. Under plurality we only find evidence of Duverger's Law under the threat of a large minority. Under approval voting, majority voters double vote less than predicted but, still, double-voting increases with the size of the minority. Finally, approval voting performs very well from a welfare viewpoint, and vastly outperforms plurality.


2012-10-11 Marie Claire Villeval (GATE, University of Lyon)
Moral hypocrisy, power and social preferences.
Room: UvA REC J/K 2.50, 16.00 - 17.15.
We show with a laboratory experiment that individuals adjust their moral principles to the situation and to their actions, just as much as they adjust their actions to their principles. We first elicit the individuals’ principles regarding the fairness and unfairness of allocations in three different scenarios (a Dictator game, an Ultimatum game, and a Trust game). One week later, the same individuals are invited to play those same games with monetary compensation. Finally in the same session we elicit again their principles regarding the fairness and unfairness of allocations in the same three scenarios. Our results show that individuals adjust abstract norms to fit the game, their role and the choices they made. First, norms that appear abstract and universal take into account the bargaining power of the two sides. The strong side bends the norm in its favor and the weak side agrees: Stated fairness is a compromise with power. Second, in most situations, individuals adjust the range of fair shares after playing the game for real money compared with their initial statement. Third, the discrepancy between hypothetical and real behavior is larger in games where real choices has no strategic consequence (Dictator game and second mover in Trust game) than in those where they do (Ultimatum game). Finally the adjustment of principles to actions is mainly the fact of individuals who behave more selfishly and who have a stronger bargaining power. The moral hypocrisy displayed (measured by the discrepancy between statements and actions chosen followed by an adjustment of principles to actions) appears produced by the attempt, not necessarily conscious, to strike a balance between self-image and immediate convenience.


2012-09-20 Christoph Brunner (University of Heidelberg )
Premium Auctions and Risk Preferences: An experimental Study.
Room: UvA REC J/K 2.50, 16.00 - 17.15.
In premium auctions, the highest losing bidder receives a reward from the seller. This paper studies the English premium auction (EPA) for the canonical case of symmetric private values with risk averse and risk loving bidders. We explicitly derive the symmetric equilibrium for bidders with CARA utilities and conduct an experimental study to test the theoretical predictions. In our experiment, subjects are sorted into risk-averse and risk loving groups using the method proposed by Holt and Laury (2002). Each group is invited to separate sessions and we find that revenue in the EPA is significantly higher when bidders are risk loving rather than risk averse. These results are partly consistent with theory and confirm the general view that bidders’ risk preferences constitute an important factor that affects bidding behavior and consequently also the seller’s expected revenue. However, individual subjects rarely follow the equilibrium strategy and as a result, revenue in our experiment is lower than in the symmetric equilibrium.


2012-08-31 ABEE 2012 symposium (two days)
Markets and Organizations.
Room: Het Trippenhuis Kloveniersburgwal 29 Amsterdam, 8.30.
In 2012 the Amsterdam School of Economics of the University of Amsterdam will host the Amsterdam Symposium on Behavioral and Experimental Economics for the fourth time. This year the focus will be on Behavioral Economics in Markets and Organizations.


2012-05-10 Joachim Weimann (Universität Magdeburg)
Public-good experiments with large groups.
Room: 2.50, Building J/K, REC, Valckenierstraat 65, 16.00 - 17.00.
Many of real-world public goods are characterized by a marginal per capita return (MPCR) close to zero and have to be provided by large groups. Up until now, there is almost no evidence on how large groups facing a low MPCR behave in controlled public-good laboratory experiments involving financial incentives. Connecting four experimental laboratories located in four different German universities via Internet, we are able to run such experiments. In addition to the group size (60 and 100 subjects), we vary the MPCR which is as small as 0.02 or 0.04. Our data reveal a strong MPCR effect, but almost no group-size effect. Our data demonstrates that, even in large groups and for low MPCRs, considerable contributions to public goods can be expected. Interestingly, the contribution patterns observed in large and very small groups are very similar. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first one that includes large-group laboratory experiments with a small MPCR under conditions comparable to previous small-group standard public-good experiments.


2012-05-03 Roy Baumeister (Florida State University)
New Directions in Self-Regulation Research (DOUBLE SEMINAR WITH ROLAND BENABOU).
Room: 2.50, Building J/K, REC, Valckenierstraat 65, 15.00 - 17.15.
Just when we thought we had worked out the main outlines of self-regulation theory, several new findings have emerged to challenge that picture. This talk presents results from laboratory, longitudinal, and meta-analytic studies. High self-control may specialize less in resisting temptation than in avoiding it. Self-control is often highly effective but does grow weaker (ego depletion) as the day wears on. Ego depletion intensifies subjective desires and feelings, rather than just weakening powers of restraint. Similarity in trait self-control is not the best predictor of relationship satisfaction. Powerful leaders self-regulate task performance in unusual ways, sometimes performing better but sometimes worse than subordinates.


2012-05-03 Roland Benabou (Princeton University)
Groupthink: Collective Delusions in Organizations and Markets (DOUBLE SEMINAR WITH ROY BAUMEISTER).
Room: 2.50, Building J/K, REC, Valckenierstraat 65, 15.00 - 17.15.
This paper investigates collective denial and willful blindness in groups, organizations and markets. Agents with anticipatory preferences, linked through an interaction structure, choose how to interpret and recall public signals about future prospects. Wishful thinking (denial of bad news) is shown to be contagious when it is harmful to others, and self-limiting when it is bene…cial. Similarly, with Kreps-Porteus preferences, willful blindness (information avoidance) spreads when it increases the risks borne by others. This general mechanism can generate multiple social cognitions of reality, and in hierarchies it implies that realism and delusion will trickle down from the leaders. The welfare analysis di¤erentiates group morale from groupthink and identi…es a fundamental tension in organizations' attitudes toward dissent. Contagious exuberance can also seize asset markets, generating investment frenzies and crashes.


2012-04-19 Johannes Abeler (Oxford University)
Preferences for truth-telling.
Room: 2.50, Building J/K, REC, Valckenierstraat 65, 16.00 - 17.00.
How people report their private information is important for many areas in economics. Economic theory assumed so far that people misreport their private information if this is to their advantage. Recent experimental evidence suggests, however, that many people are more honest than assumed. I develop a model that can align the stylized facts of the existing data on reporting behavior and present new evidence that further distinguishes between potential mechanisms driving behavior. I also show data on truth-telling in a field experiment.


2012-04-05 Ayelet Gneezy (UCSD)
Self Identity in Markets.
Room: 2.50, Building J/K, REC, Valckenierstraat 65, 16.00 - 17.00.
No abstract available.


2012-03-29 Sanjeev Goyal (University of Cambridge )
Competitive Contagion in Networks.
Room: E0.03, Building E, Roetersstraat 11, 16.00 - 17.00.
We introduce and develop a framework for the study of competition between firms who have budgets to “seed” the initial adoption of their products by consumers located in a social network. The payoffs to the firms are the eventual number of adoptions of their product through a competitive stochastic diffusion process in the network. This framework yields a very rich class of competitive strategies, which depend in subtle ways on the stochastic dynamics of adoption, the relative budgets of the players, and the underlying structure of the social network. We identify a general property of the adoption dynamics — namely, decreasing re- turns to local adoption — for which the inefficiency of resource use at equilibrium (the Price of Anarchy ) is uniformly bounded above, across all equilibria and networks. We also show that if this property is even slightly violated, the Price of Anarchy can be unbounded, thus yielding sharp threshold behavior for a broad class of dynamics. We also introduce a new notion, the Price of Budgets , that measures the extent that imbalances in player budgets can be amplified at equilibrium. We again identify a general property of the adoption dynamics — namely, proportional local adoption between competitors — for which the (pure) Price of Budgets is uniformly bounded above, across all equilibria and all networks. We show that even a slight departure from this property can lead to unbounded Price of Budgets, again yielding sharp threshold behavior for a broad class of dynamics. (joint work with Michael Kearns)


2012-03-08 Sally Sadoff (UCSD)
The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance.
Room: REC, Building J/K, room 2.50, Valckenierstraat 65-67, 16.00-17.00 .
Decades of research on behavioral economics have established the importance of factors that are typically absent from the standard economic framework: reference dependent preferences, hyperbolic preferences, and the value placed on non-financial rewards. To date, these insights have had little impact on the way the educational system operates. Through a series of field experiments involving thousands of primary and secondary school students, we demonstrate the power of behavioral economics to influence student outcomes. Several insights emerge. First, we find that incentives framed as losses have consistently larger effects than comparable incentives framed as gains. Second, we find that non-financial incentives are considerably more cost-effective than financial incentives for younger students, but were not effective with older students. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, consistent with hyperbolic discounting, all motivating power of the incentives vanishes when rewards are handed out with a delay. Since the rewards to educational investment virtually always come with a delay, our results suggest that the current set of incentives may lead to underinvestment. For policymakers, our findings imply that in the absence of immediate incentives, many students put forth low effort on standardized tests, which may create biases in measures of student ability, teacher value added, school quality, and achievement gaps.


2012-02-28 Martin Sefton (University of Nottingham)
Information and Overdissipation in Rent-Seeking Contests.
Room: REC, Building J/K, room 2.50, Valckenierstraat 65-67, 11.00-12.00.
We investigate deterministic and stochastic repeated rent-seeking contests. In the deterministic contest a contestant receives a share of the rent equal to her share of rent-seeking expenditures. When subjects get feedback about the choices and earnings of all contestants we find that changes in behavior can be explained partially by adjustments in the direction of best response to rivals’ choices in the previous round and partially by adjustments in the direction of imitating the most successful contestant. The implication of imitating the most successful contestant is over-dissipation relative to Nash equilibrium expenditures levels. When subjects are only informed of own earnings imitating the most successful player is no longer possible and average behavior converges to Nash equilibrium levels. In the stochastic contest a contestant wins the entire rent with probability equal to her share of rent-seeking expenditures. Here we also see over-dissipation relative to Nash equilibrium in a full information feedback treatment. However, when we restrict information feedback to own earnings we observe the highest over-dissipation rates of all.


2012-02-03 Jean-Robert Tyran (University of Vienna)
The Price of Prejudice.
Room: REC, Building J/K, room 2.50, Valckenierstraat 65-67, 16.00.
This paper presents a new type of field experiment to investigate ethnic prejudice in the workplace. Our design allows us to study how potential discriminators respond to changes in cost of discrimination. We find that ethnic discrimination is common but remarkably responsive to the price of prejudice, i.e. to the opportunity cost of choosing a less productive worker on ethnic grounds. In addition, we find that accurate statistical discrimination fails to explain observed choices, and that taking ethnic prejudice into account helps to predict the incidence of discrimination.


2012-01-19 Ariel Rubinstein (Tel Aviv University and New York University)
A Personal Journey in the Wonderland of Neuroeconomics.
Room: REC- building E, room 0.20, Roetersstraat 11, 16.00.
In the lecture I will describe my attempts to understand the last decade developments of Neuroeconomics. I will describe some results concerning response time and eye-tracking. The results will be the platform of a discussion of the possible role or (the lack of a role) of Neuroeconomics in economic theory.


2011-12-15 Dirk Engelmann (University of Mannheim)
Choosing how to choose: efficiency concerns and constitutional choice.
Room: Tinbergen Institute, 16.00-17.00.
We study group decision making in a two-step process. In the first step, group members decide by a random dictator mechanism upon the rule they will use in the second step of their decision process. In the second step, all group members then vote between two alternatives and the decision is implemented according to the rule chosen in the first step. One alternative implies zero payoffs for all group members, the other alternative can have positive and negative valuations for each different group member, where valuations are drawn independently. Selfish players should choose a rule in the first stage that implements their preferred choice for sure in the second stage. Inequality averse players should choose even for small positive valuations a rule that implements the alternative that yields zero payoffs for all and subjects that are concerned with maximizing efficiency should for small positive or negative valuations choose majority voting as the decision rule (or a rule between majority voting and one that implements their payoff-maximizing outcome for sure). We find that in the second stage group members almost always vote in favor of the alternative that maximizes their own payoff, whereas the rule choice is often inconsistent with selfish payoff maximization. Furthermore, the rule choice shows no evidence of inequality aversion, but is consistent with efficiency concerns.


2011-12-15 John O'Doherty (Californian Institute of Technology)
Neural mechanisms of goal-directed and habitual behavioral control in the human brain.
Room: Tinbergen Institute, 15.00-16.00.
In this talk I will review evidence for the existence of at least two distinct mechanisms for behavioral control in the human brain: a deliberative goal-directed system in which actions are selected with reference to both the current subjective utility of the associated outcomes and the causal nature of the relationship between such actions and the production of outcomes; and a more reflexive habitual system in which actions are performed in a given context due to a history of prior reinforcement but without consideration of either the utility of the outcome or the causal structure of the action-outcome relationship. I will provide evidence from a series of human fMRI studies that these two distinct mechanisms appear to depend on distinct brain structures in the prefrontal cortex and striatum. Whereas the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and anterior medial striatum are more involved in goal-directed control, the posterior lateral striatum is engaged more under conditions when action selection is under habitual control. These findings resonate with evidence from behavioral and lesion data in rodents for the existence of similar dichotomies in cortico-striatal systems for action-selection. Collectively, these results suggest that mechanisms for behavioral selection are remarkably conserved across mammalian species.


2011-10-20 Gary Charness (UC Berkeley)
Equilibrium Selection and Random Networks in Experimental Games.
Room: REC, building J/K, room 2.50, Valckenierstraat 65-67, 16.00 - 17.00.
We study how people arranged in a random network play games involving either strategic substitutes or strategic complements and either complete or incomplete information about the structure of the network, so that our results will have more applicability to field environments. Under complete information, we find that people quite frequently play the stochastically-stable(inefficient) equilibrium when the game involves strategic substitutes, but instead play the efficient one if the game involves strategic complements. In practical terms, this means that equilibrium multiplicity may not be a major concern. We find that the actions and realized outcomes under incomplete information depend both strongly on both the degree and the connectivity. With strategic complements, characterized by multiple equilibria, people begin by playing the efficient equilibrium, but eventually converge to the inefficient one. Finally, our results provide an impressive behavioral confirmation of the theoretical predictions derived by Galeotti, Goyal, Jackson, Vega-Redondo and Yariv (2010).


2011-10-05 Botond Koszegi (UC-Berkeley)
A Model of Focusing in Economic Choice.
Room: REC, building J/K, room 2.50, Valckenierstraat 65-67, 16.00-17.00 .
We present a generally applicable theory of focusing based on the hypothesis that a person focuses more on, and hence overweights, attributes in which her options differ more. Our model predicts that the decisionmaker is too prone to choose options with concentrated advantages relative to alternatives, but maximizes utility when the advantages and disadvantages of alternatives are equally concentrated. In intertemporal choice, because the relative concentrations of an option's costs and benefits can be different from the perspective of a single period and the perspective of the entire choice problem, the decisionmaker often exhibits a form of time inconsistency. She is present-biased when the costs of current misbehavior are distributed over many future dates (such as in harmful consumption), but "future-biased" when the benefit of many periods' effort is concentrated in a single goal (such as in career advancement). In a market setting, a profit-maximizing firm selling to a consumer with focus-dependent behavior chooses a product with one core attribute, and splits its price into multiple components. A strong firm wants to be especially strong on its competitor's weak attribute, while a weak firm wants to be relatively strong on its competitor's strong attribute.


2011-09-21 Jason Shachat (Xiamen University)
Informational price cascades and non-aggregation of asymmetric information in experimental asset markets.
Room: REC, building J/K, room 2.52, Valckenierstraat 65-67, 16.00-17.00.
We report on experimental markets for a contingent claim asset that eight subjects traded for nine periods before the state was revealed. There is an informative binary signal that arrives after each of the first eight trading rounds. In our baseline treatment the realization of the signal is public information, and in another treatment, market participants are randomly sequenced and receive the signal as private information. In the latter case, we observe zero information aggregation and prices lock in on home grown norms, which we call informational price cascades. We test the fragility of the price cascades in two further treatments. First, we break the monopoly on each signal by revealing it to two subjects, and then we increase that number to four. It is only when we inform four participants, or one-half of the market, that cascades fail to form and information starts to aggregate in the market.


2011-06-23 Georg Kirchsteiger (ECARES, Université Libre de Bruxelles )
How (Not) To Decide: Procedural Games.
Room: Tinbergen Institute, Symphony Building, room 1.01, 16.00-17.00.
Using Psychological Game Theory we develop a general framework allowing players to exhibit procedural concerns. We present two areas in which procedural concerns play a key role. First, we apply our framework to policy experiments and show that the way in which researchers allocate subjects into treatment and control groups influences the experimental results. Second, we analyze the problem of appointing agents into jobs that differ in terms of their desirability. Because of procedural concerns the principal.s choice of appointment procedure aspects the subsequent effort choice of agents. We test this hypothesis in a field experiment and find consistent results.


2011-06-23 Harold Houba (VU University Amsterdam)
The Condorcet Paradox Revisited.
Room: Tinbergen Institute, Symphony building, room 1.01, 15.00-16.00.
We analyze the Condorcet paradox within a strategic bargaining model with majority voting. Consistent subgame perfect equilibria (CPE) exist whenever the geometric mean of the players' risk coefficients, ratios of utility differences between alternatives, is at most one. CPEs are Pareto efficient and ensure agreement within finite expected time. For generic parameter values, CPEs are unique and in a CPE either all players propose their best alternative with probability one or two players do so and the third player randomizes between proposing his best and middle alternative. Agents accept best alternatives, may reject middle alternatives with positive probability, and reject otherwise. Bargaining power as modeled by recognition probabilities is a key factor in determining expected delay. Irrespective of the utility functions, no delay occurs for a suitable choice of bargaining power, whereas expected delay goes to infinity if one of the players has almost all the bargaining power. For generic parameter values, Condorcet cycles do not occur. Contrary to the case with unanimous approval, a player benefits from an increase in his risk aversion.


2011-06-16 Kenneth Williams (Michigan State University )
The Effects of Identities, Incentives, and Information on Voting .
Room: Room E0.03, E building, Roetersstraat 11, 16.00.
We report on majority rule voting experiments where subjects are randomly assigned identities in common with a candidate. However, subjects sometimes receive a financial incentive from voting contrary to their identity. We vary the size of the incentive as well as information voters have about the advantage of the incentive. We find that subjects are influenced by their assigned identities and the effect is stronger when voters have less information. Nevertheless, financial incentives reduce this influence when voters have full information. Our results suggest that identity may have an important affect on voter choices in elections where incentives or information are low. The experiment also allow us to discuss how learning is impacted when financial incentives and the complexity of the experiment varies.


0000-00-00 ()
Room: , .
No abstract available.

Previous Seminars


Eric van Damme, Which Words Bond? An Experiment on Signaling in a Public Good Game Thomas Kittsteiner, Opportunism and Incomplete Contracts
Tim Salmon, Maintaining Efficiency While Integrating Entrants From Lower-Performing Environments: An Experimental Study
Christian Zehnder, Did we overestimate the role of social preferences? The case of self-selected student samples


Ayala Arad, Colonels and Tennis Coaches'Depth of Strategic Reasoning
Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, Regime Change and Revolutionary Entrepreneurs
Gary Charness, Participation
Stefano DellaVigna, Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving
Jan Eeckhout, Assortative Learning
Dan Houser, Competition for Trophies Promotes Male Generosity
Navin Kartik, Advising on Alternatives:Pandering to Persuade
Dan Levin, Violations of First-Order-Stochastic-Dominance and Conjunction Rule: Experimental Study of Robustness using Groups. Daniele Nosenzo, On the Impact of Pay Comparisons on Effort Behavior Wieland Mueller, Allais for all: Revisiting the paradox
Arno Riedl, Enforcement of Contribution Norms in Public Good Games with Heterogeneous Populations
Bettina Rockenbach, We Are Not Alone: The Impact of Externalities on Public Good Provision


Charlie Holt, Collusion in Auctions for Emission Permits: An Experimental Analysis
Veronika Nemes, Overcoming the Split Incentives Problem in Energy Efficiency Investments in Rental Properties
Aldo Rustichini, Skill and Luck modulate the brain’s coding of relative outcomes
Andrea Galeotti, Strategic information transmission in networks
Graham Loomes, Modelling Noise and Imprecision in Individual Decisions
Dino Gerardi, A Principal-Agent Model of Sequential Testing
J. Philipp Reiss, Heterogeneous bids with rational and markdown bidders - Theory and Experiment
Jeffrey Carpenter, Why Volunteer? Evidence on the role of altruism, reputation, and incentives
Andrew Newman, Loopholes: Social Learning and the Evolution of Contract Form
Flavio Toxvaerd, Foundations of Strategic Epidemiology: Recurrent Infection and Treatment
Jan Boone, Selective contracting in health care
Jan Potters, Spurious Product Differentiation and Consumer Confusion
Kenneth Shepsle, Choosing Institutional Microfeatures: Endogenous Seniority
Armin Falk, Reference-Dependent Preferences and Work Effort
Erik Sorensen, The development of fairness views in children

Erwin Diewert, Measuring the Effects of Changes in the Terms of Trade
Robert Hill, Flexible Spatial and Temporal Hedonic Price Indexes for Housing in the Presence of Missing Data and Spatial Correlation
Prasada Rao, Consistent Comparisons of real Incomes across Time and Space
Matthijs van Veelen, Wealth in the Eye of the Beholder: The Axiomatic Approach, the Economic Approach and Consumer Heterogeneity
Peter Neary, Theoretical Foundations for International Comparisons of Living Standards and GDP
Marcel Timmer, Productivity Levels: Is More Detailed Data Better?
Bert Balk, Searching for the Holy Grail of Index Number Theory

Leticia Avilés, Nonlinear dynamics and social evolution


Marco Battaglini, The Swing Voter’s Curse in the Laboratory
Roger D. Congleton, The Rise of the Modern Welfare State, Ideology, Institutions, and Income Security: Analysis and Evidence
Zvika Neeman, Renegotiation-proof mechanism design
Steffen Huck, Testing Consumer Theory in The Field: Private Consumption vs Charitable Goods
Martin Hellwig, Public-Good Provision in a Large Economy
Marcel Timmer, Innovation, Productivity and Welfare of Nations
Gary Charness, The Origin of the Winner’s Curse: A Laboratory Study
Karim Sadrieh, Implicit Incentives in International Joint Ventures
Arnaud Costinot, Heterogeneity and Trade
Masanori Takezawa, Children's group decision making in dictator and ultimatum games
Ed Hopkins, Testing the TASP: an Experimental Investigation of Learning in Games with Unstable Equilibria


Alessandro Lizzeri, Parental Guidance and Supervised Learning
Anke Gerber, Learning in and about games
Han van der Maas, A dynamic model of general intelligence: the positive manifold of intelligence by mutualism
Li, Hao Credible Ratings
Juan José Ganuza, On the information and competition in private value auctions
Buz Brock, Giovanna Devetag, Classic coordination failures revisited: the effects of deviation costs and loss aversion Giovanni Dosi, Statistical Regularities in the Evolution of Industries. A Guide through some Evidence and Challenges for the Theory
Stefan Napel, The European Commission – Appointment, Preferences, and Institutional Relations
Bruno Biais, Dynamic Security Design
Thierry Post, Deal or No Deal? Decision Making Under Risk in a Large-Payoff Game Show
Jeroen van de Ven, A Public Dilemma: Cooperation with Large Stakes and a Large Audience
Florian Englmaier, A Strategic Rationale for Having Overconfident Managers


Martin Sefton, "Determinants of aggressive bidding in the "buying a company" task"
Erik Hoelzl, "Social comparison and risk-seeking in economic decisions"
HĂĄkan Holm, "Endogenous Communication and Tacit Coordination in Market Entry Games: An explorative experimental study"
Shmuel Nitzan, "Contest efforts in light of behavioral considerations"
Simon Gächter, "Measuring individual-level loss aversion"
Ferdinand von Siemens, "Envy and Moral Hazard with Multiple Agents"
Conrado Manuel, Georg Weizsacker, Jean-Jaques Herings, "Time-inconsistent preferences in a General Equilibrium Model" Nick Vriend, "On the Role of Focal Points as Non-equilibrium Coordination Device"
George Baker, "Wage Policies and Incentives to Invest in Firm-Specific Human Capital"
Jeroen van de Ven, "Discretionary bonuses as a feedback mechanism"
Mike Ball, Dirk Engelmann, "Overcoming Incentive Constraints? The (In-)effectiveness of Social Interaction"


Tore Ellingsen, Trust as an Incentive
Henrik Orzen, The common ratio effect and timing (in-)dependence in dynamic choice problems: an experiment
Jose M. Zarzuelo, Consistency and strategic bargaining in cost sharing problems
Marie-Claire Villeval, Do (wo)men prefer (non)competitive jobs?
Pieter Ruys, The effectivity of governance systems in selecting and managing services
Dirk Sliwka, (Dis-)Trust as a Signal of a Social Norm: The hidden costs of incentive contracts
Marcin Malawski, Procedural values for cooperative games
Michael Kosfeld, Distrust - The Hidden Cost of Control
Guillermo Owen, Modified Power Indices for Indirect Voting
Avner Shaked, Cumulative Gift Exchange
Martin Weber, Overconfidence and Trading Volume
Jeroen Kuipers, Myopic solutions for games in effectiveness form
Robert Dur, Incentives and Workers' Motivation in the Public Sector
Kfir Eliaz, Group Decision Making in the Shadow of Disagreement
Quan Wen, Repeated Games with Asynchronous Moves
Roald Ramer, Three common fallacies in testing game theory experimentally
Timothy Cason, An Experimental Study of Price Dispersion in a Search Model with Advertising


Enrico Perotti, Circulation of Ideas
Jim Cox, Implications of Small- and Large-Stakes Risk Aversion for Decision Theory
Sam Bowles, Is Inequality an Evolutionary Universal?
Javier Arien, Implementing with veto players: simple mechanisms.
Erwin Amann, Non-linear pricing in oligopoly
Shmuel Nitzan, Transparency and Lobbying
Axel Ockenfels, Reputation, Information and Matching on Internet Market Platforms - Experiments and Some Theory.
Timothy Besley, Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents
Agnieska Rusinowska, Consensus reaching in coalition formation and committees
Roland Strausz, Honest Certification and the Threat of Capture
Bernd Irlensbusch Endogenous Group-Selection in Public Goods
Holger Meinhardt, Stability of Cartels and the Incentive for Merger in Oligopoly Situations without Transferable Technologies
Jordi Brandts, Forward induction and the excess capacity puzzle: An experimental investigation
Johan van Benthem, Games in the perspective of a logician
Jozsef Sakovics, Contractual Remedies to the Holdup Problem: A Dynamic Perspective
Dries Vermeulen, The economic effects of outsourcing
Ulrike Malmendier, Contract Design and Self-Control: Theory and Evidence
Georg Kirchsteiger, Does Learning Lead to Coordination on Market Clearing Institutions?
Dinko Dimitrov, On Collective Identity
Charles Noussair, Production, Trade, and Exchange Rates in Large Experimental Economies
Paul van Lange, The Power of Negativity in Social Dilemmas & How to Overcome the Detrimental Effects of Noise in Social Interaction: The Benefits of Generosity
Rene Levinsky, Ultimatum Offers and the Role of Transparency: An Experimental Study of Information Acquisition
Antoni Calvo-Armengol, Networks in Labor Markets: Wage and Employment Dynamics and Inequality
Eric Eyster, Rationalising the Past: A Taste for Consistency
Herman Monsuur, Centrality and Stability, with application to Network Formating
Jose Luis Moraga-Gonzalez, Entry and competition in segmented markets
Vladimir A. Karamychev, Multi-Store competition: Market segmentation or Interlacing?


Charles Holt, "An Explanation of Anomalous Behavior in Binary-Choice Games: Entry, Voting, Public Goods, and the Voluteers' Dilemma"
Frank Steffen, "Power and Success of a Chairman"
Ted Bergstrom, "Evolution of Social Behavior: Individual and Group Selection"
Ignacio GarcĂ­a-Jurado, "Values for strategic games in which players cooperate"
Klaus M. Schmidt, "Fairness, Incentives and Contractual Incompleteness"
Encarna Algaba Duran, "A Generalization of the Myerson Value"
Oliver Kirchkamp, "No imitation --- on local and group interaction, learning, reciprocity, and repeated game strategies in prisoners' dilemma experiments"
Ronald Peeters, "Stochastic Games: Computation and Application"
Eline van der Heijden, "Leading by example? Investment decisions in a mixed sequential-simultaneous public bad experiment"
David De Meza, "Should Unequals Have Equal Opportunities?"
Stanley S. (Stan) Reynolds, "Ascending Bid Auctions with a Buy-Now Price"
Marco Haan, "License Auctions When Winning Bids Are Financed Through Debt"
Martin Sefton, "Experiments on Price Dispersion"
Andreas Roider, "Herding in Financial Markets: An Internet Experiment"


Urs Fischbacher, "Local Polities and Global Public Goods"
Jim Cox, "Barking Up the Right Tree: Are Small Groups Rational Agents?"
Sabine Kroeger, "Durable-Goods Monopoly with Privately Known Impatience -- A theoretical and experimental study"
Jorgen Weibull, "Testing game theory"
Andrew Schotter, "Talking Ourselves to Efficiency : Coordination in Inter-Generational Minimum Games with Private, Almost Common and Common Knowledge of Advice"
Rodica Branzei, "Cooperation and Information"
Josef Falkinger, "Employability and the Power to Organize Jobs"
Eyal Winter, "Scapegoats and Optimal Allocation of Responsibility"
Hans-Theo Normann, "Mergers and the Perception of Market Power: An Experimental Study"
Martin Dufwenberg, "Existence and Uniqueness of Maximal Reductions under Iterated Strict Dominance"
Glenn W. Harrison, "Estimating individual discount rates with field experiments"