1. (Behavioral) Theory
Project proposer: Joep Sonnemans

Behavioral Economics tests theories and hypotheses in the laboratory and the field, and inspires new models and theories that describe actual behavior. Most researchers of CREED are primarily experimenters. When we want to develop new models (or adapt existing models), we miss a sparring partner with relevant experience in model building. Therefore, we want to complement our group with a theorist. For this position, we are looking for either a behavioral theorist or a theoretical microeconomist with affinity for Behavioral Economics. The theorist should have broad interests, be not too nerdy and be willing to cooperate with other section members.

2. Nudging for a Better Democracy
Project proposers: Arthur Schram and Randolph Sloof

Various PhD theses have been completed at CREED that study voter behavior. Most have included studies of how information affects voters' choices. This includes responses to information about (i) other's turnout decisions; (ii) others' preferences; (iii) voting intentions; and (iv) biased candidate endorsements. Voters may react in terms of turnout, strategic voting, or party choice. If information can affect voter behavior, it may have consequences for electoral outcomes and therefore for the functioning of a democracy. If information has these effects, it can be used to nudge voters in certain directions. Without entering normative discussions, we intend to study how information nudges affect voter behavior. As in Kujansuu (2021), we will distinguish between system 1 nudges (that provide decision-making short cuts) and system 2 nudges (that induce reflective thinking). In some of the projects, the nudger will be an active player in the strategic interaction with the voters. The goal is to study the effectiveness of nudges in terms of the nudger's objectives, but also in terms of a broad set of criteria related to the functioning of democracy.

3. Nudging for a Sustainable Future
Project proposers: Jan Engelmann, Theo Offerman and Giorgia Romagnoli

Growing evidence shows that the extent to which individuals take decisions that are moral and sustainable is specific to the decision context. In this project, we will investigate how nudges, incentives and institutions can be used to encourage people to take environmentally sustainable decisions. How do we prevent the erosion of moral norms (Falk and Szech, 2013; Ziegler, Romagnoli and Offerman, 2021) in markets for products with environmental impact? How do people coordinate collective action against climate change risks within and across communities, and what is the role of social norms in such coordination efforts? What stimulates individuals to move beyond their particular interests and what leads groups and individuals to oppose or demand environmentally protective regulations? Attention will be dedicated to studying developmental trajectories over time, including "tipping points" in the emergence and break-down of large-scale cooperation.

4. Mires of Merit - understanding the role of desert in economic and political decision making
Project proposers: Joël van der Weele and Thomas Douenne

The meritocratic idea that people are entitled to the profits resulting from hard work and ambition is a core organizing principle of liberal democracies. It also provides the dominant justification for capitalist institutions such as the protection of individual property rights and limited levels of income redistribution. Recently however, several leading scholars have criticized both the practice and the ideals of meritocracy. Piketty (2020) argues, backed up with a large quantity of data, that elites have captured the main gateways towards economic opportunity, in particular higher education, undermining the idea of equal opportunity that is at the root of meritocracy. Sandel (2021) goes further, and argues that the very idea of meritocracy erodes the civic-mindedness of winners, who do not feel they owe society anything, and demoralizes the losers, who feel like their position is their own fault. These scholars suggest that the combination of unequal opportunities and personalized attributions of success helps explain the rise in economic inequality and the recent rise in populist politics. The goal of the proposed research is to understand the role of meritocratic narratives in economic and political behavior, and empirically evaluate the criticisms leveled against it. The research will consist of two strands. First, we will investigate the effect of meritocratic narratives on cooperation and public good provision in the laboratory. Second, we will use representative surveys and survey experiments to understand individual drivers of belief formation about merit and their relation with economic behavior. For the latter, we aim to apply for a an ODISSEI grant to make use of CBS microdata in combination with the Liss survey panel.