nep-cbe New Economics Papers
on Cognitive and Behavioural Economics
Issue of 2011‒03‒26
twelve papers chosen by
Marco Novarese
University Amedeo Avogadro

  1. Multitasking: Productivity Effects and Gender Differences By Thomas Buser; Noemi Peter
  2. Understanding the Size and Profitability of Firms: The Role of a Biological Factor By Luigi Guiso; Aldo Rustichini
  3. What drives women out of entrepreneurship? The joint role of testosterone and culture By Luigi Guiso; Aldo Rustichini
  4. Hormones and Social Preferences By Thomas Buser
  5. Inequality Perceptions, Distributional Norms, and Redistributive Preferences in East and West Germany By Kuhn, Andreas
  6. Heterogeneous Productivity in Voluntary Public Good Provision: An Experimental Analysis By Fellner, Gerlinde; Iida, Yoshio; Kröger, Sabine; Seki, Erika
  7. Not Just Because it is Fair - The Role of Feedback Quality and Voice in Performance Evaluation By Noeverman, J.
  8. Top Guns May Not Fire: Best-Shot Group Contests with Group-Specific Public Good Prizes By Subhasish M. Chowdhury; Dongryul Lee; Roman M. Sheremeta
  9. Probability Matching and Reinforcement Learning* By Javier Rivas
  10. Experts in Experiments: How Selection Matters for Estimated Distributions of Risk Preferences By von Gaudecker, Hans-Martin; van Soest, Arthur; Wengström, Erik
  11. Personality Characteristics and the Decision to Become and Stay Self-Employed By Marco Caliendo; Frank M. Fossen; Alexander S. Kritikos
  12. Variation of learning intensity in late adolescence and the impact on noncognitive skills By Büttner, Bettina; Thiel, Hendrik; Thomsen, Stephan L.

  1. By: Thomas Buser (University of Amsterdam); Noemi Peter (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: We examine how multitasking affects performance and check whether women are indeed better at multitasking. Subjects in our experiment perform two different tasks according to three treatments: one where they perform the tasks sequentially, one where they are forced to multitask, and one where they can freely organize their work. Subjects who are forced to multitask perform significantly worse than those forced to work sequentially. Surprisingly, subjects who can freely organize their own schedule also perform significantly worse. Finally, our results do not support the stereotype that women are better at multitasking. Women suffer as much as men when forced to multitask and are actually less inclined to multitask when being free to choose.
    Keywords: multitasking; productivity; gender; lab experiment
    JEL: C91 J16 J24
    Date: 2011–02–22
  2. By: Luigi Guiso; Aldo Rustichini
    Abstract: We collect information on prenatal testosterone in a large sample of entrepreneurs by measuring the length of their 2th to 4th fingers in face to face interviews. Entrepreneurs with higher exposure to prenatal testosterone (lower second to fourth digit ratio) manage larger firms, are matched with larger firms when acquire control and experience faster average growth over the years they manage the firm. We also find that prenatal testosterone is correlated with elicited measures of entrepreneurial skills such as ability to stand work, and the latter are correlated with firm size. This evidence suggests entrepreneurial skills have a biological component and is consistent with models of the size distribution of firms based on entrepreneurial ability. However, firms run by high-testosterone entrepreneurs have lower profitability as measured by return on assets. We offer evidence that this is because the same biological factor that enhances entrepreneurial skills also induces empire building preferences, which leads high-testosterone entrepreneurs to target a firm size that exceeds the profit maximizing value.
    Keywords: Firm size distribution, Entrepreneurial success, Digit ratio
    JEL: L26 L21 L25
    Date: 2011
  3. By: Luigi Guiso; Aldo Rustichini
    Abstract: The ratio of second to fourth digit (2D4D) has been shown to correlate negatively with entrepreneurial skills and financial success. We document that in a sample of entrepreneurs women have a lower 2D4D ratio than men, in sharp contrast with the features of the distribution in random samples. Exploiting variation across communities in indices correlated with women emancipation, we show that in regions where women are less emancipated their average DR is lower than that of men compared to regions with higher indices. This finding is consistent with the existence of gender related obstacles into entrepreneurship so that only women with well above average entrepreneurial skills find it attractive to self-select into entrepreneurship. This finding can rationalize three facts: a) fewer women than men are entrepreneurs; b) the proportion of women among entrepreneurs tends to be higher in countries with higher women emancipation; c) women who break the barrier into entrepreneurship seem to show more masculine traits. We also find that once women enter entrepreneurship, they are equally able than man to translate their ability into outcomes for the firm.
    Keywords: Women emancipation, Entrepreneurial ability, Digit Ratio, Testosterone, Entrepreneurship
    JEL: L26 L21 L25
    Date: 2011
  4. By: Thomas Buser (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: We examine whether social preferences are determined by hormones. We do this by investigating whether markers for the strength of prenatal testosterone exposure (finger length ratios) and current exposure to progesterone and oxytocin (the menstrual cycle) are correlated with choices in social preference games. We find that subjects with finger ratios indicating high prenatal testosterone exposure give less in the trust, ultimatum and public good games and return a smaller proportion in the trust game. The choices of female subjects vary over the menstrual cycle according to a pattern consistent with a positive impact of oxytocin on giving in the trust and ultimatum games and a positive impact of progesterone on altruism. We find no impact for subjects taking hormonal contraceptives. We conclude that both prenatal and current exposure to hormones play an important role in shaping social preferences.
    Keywords: social preferences; 2D:4D; testosterone; progesterone; oxytocin
    JEL: C91 D87
    Date: 2011–02–24
  5. By: Kuhn, Andreas (University of Zurich)
    Abstract: This paper studies differences in inequality perceptions, distributional norms, and redistributive preferences between East and West Germany. As expected, there are substantial differences with respect to all three of these measures. Surprisingly, however, differences in distributional norms are much smaller than differences with respect to inequality perceptions or redistributive preferences. Nonetheless, individuals from East Germany tend to be more supportive of state redistribution and progressive taxation, and less likely to have a conservative political orientation, even conditional on having the same inequality perceptions and distributional norms.
    Keywords: subjective inequality indices, redistributive preferences, political preferences
    JEL: D31 D63 H50 J31
    Date: 2011–03
  6. By: Fellner, Gerlinde (University of Vienna); Iida, Yoshio (Kyoto Sangyo University); Kröger, Sabine (Université Laval); Seki, Erika (University of Aberdeen)
    Abstract: This article experimentally examines voluntary contributions when group members' marginal returns to the public good vary. The experiment implements two marginal return types, low and high, and uses the information that members have about the heterogeneity to identify the applied contribution norm. If agents are aware of the heterogeneity, contributions increase in general. However, high types contribute more than low types when contributions can be linked to the type of the donor but contribute less otherwise. Low types, on the other hand, contribute more than high types when group members are aware of the heterogeneity but contributions cannot be linked to types. Our results underline the importance of the information structure when persons with different abilities contribute to a joint project, as in the context of teamwork or charitable giving.
    Keywords: public goods, voluntary contribution mechanism, heterogeneity, information, norms
    JEL: C9 H41
    Date: 2011–03
  7. By: Noeverman, J.
    Abstract: This paper investigates the role of feedback quality and voice in performance evaluation. A model is developed and tested in which feedback quality and voice enhance procedural fairness perceptions (procedure effects), and procedural fairness perceptions in turn lead to different positive reactions (fair process effects). Voice is distinguished in instrumental and non-instrumental voice. The findings based on questionnaire data from 60 early career accountants show that the two components of voice and feedback quality are uniquely associated with procedural fairness perceptions, and through procedural fairness with distributive justice, trust in superior, and satisfaction with the appraisal review. Beyond these fairness effects, feedback quality is directly associated with satisfaction with the appraisal review and distributive justice, while instrumental and non-instrumental voice are directly associated with interpersonal trust in supervisor. Thus, feedback quality is mainly associated with outcome-based effects, while voice primarily enhances relational effects. These findings show that feedback quality and voice serve important but different roles in performance evaluation and help promote positive attitudes and behaviour of employees beyond fair process effects.
    Keywords: evaluation;fair process effect;fairness;voice;trust
    Date: 2010–12–31
  8. By: Subhasish M. Chowdhury (School of Economics, University of East Anglia); Dongryul Lee (School of Technology Management, UNIST); Roman M. Sheremeta (Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University)
    Abstract: We analyze a group contest in which n groups compete to win a group-specific public good prize. Group sizes can be different and any individual player may value the prize differently within and across groups. Players expend costly efforts simultaneously and independently. Only the highest effort (the best-shot) within each group represents the group effort and the winning group is determined by a contest success function. We fully characterize the set of equilibria and show that in any equilibrium at most one player in each group exerts strictly positive effort. There always exists an equilibrium in which only the highest value player in each active group expends positive effort and the contest is reduced to an individual contest between individual players. However, there may also be equilibria in which the highest value players completely free ride on others by exerting no effort. We provide conditions under which this can be avoided and discuss contest design implications.
    Keywords: Best-shot technology, Group contest, Group-specific public goods
    JEL: C72 D70 D72 H41
    Date: 2011–03–15
  9. By: Javier Rivas
    Abstract: Probability matching occurs when an action is chosen with a frequency equivalent to the probability of that action being the best choice. This sub-optimal behavior has been reported repeatedly by psychologist and experimental economist. We provide an evolutionary foundation for this phenomenon by showing that learning by reinforcement can lead to probability matching and, if learning occurs suffciently slowly, probability matching does not only occur in choice frequencies but also in choice probabilities. Our results are completed by proving that there exists no quasi-linear reinforcement learning specification such that behavior is optimal for all environments where counterfactuals are observed.
    Keywords: Probability Matching; Reinforcement Learning
    JEL: C73
    Date: 2011–03
  10. By: von Gaudecker, Hans-Martin (University of Mannheim); van Soest, Arthur (Tilburg University); Wengström, Erik (University of Copenhagen)
    Abstract: An ever increasing number of experiments attempts to elicit risk preferences of a population of interest with the aim of calibrating parameters used in economic models. We are concerned with two types of selection effects, which may affect the external validity of standard experiments: Sampling from a narrowly defined population of students ("experimenter-induced selection") and self-selection of participants into the experiment. We find that both types of selection lead to a sample of experts: Participants perform significantly better than the general population, in the sense of fewer violations of revealed preference conditions. Self-selection within a broad population does not seem to matter for average preferences. In contrast, sampling from a student population leads to lower estimates of average risk aversion and loss aversion parameters. Furthermore, it dramatically reduces the amount of heterogeneity in all parameters.
    Keywords: risk aversion, loss aversion, internet surveys, laboratory experiments
    JEL: C90 D81
    Date: 2011–03
  11. By: Marco Caliendo; Frank M. Fossen; Alexander S. Kritikos
    Abstract: This paper systematically investigates whether different kinds of personality characteristics influence entrepreneurial development. On the basis of a large, representative household panel survey, we examine the extent to which the Big Five traits and further personality characteristics, which are more specifically related to entrepreneurial tasks, influence entry into self-employment and survival of self-employed persons in Germany. The empirical analysis reveals that among the specific characteristics in particular "risk attitudes" and "locus of control" have strong effects on entry and survival. With respect to the Big Five approach, in particular the traits "openness to experience" and "extraversion" and to a lower extent "agreeableness" and "neuroticism" help to explain entrepreneurial development. The explanatory power of the Big Five is comparable to one of the most prominent determinants of entrepreneurship - education - and approximately three times larger than parental selfemployment.
    Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Personality, Big Five, Risk Aversion, Locus of Control
    JEL: D81 J23 M13
    Date: 2011
  12. By: Büttner, Bettina; Thiel, Hendrik; Thomsen, Stephan L.
    Abstract: Despite the interdependence between cognitive and noncognitive skills, empirical studies have shown a longer period of acquisition in life-time for the latter besides relevance for educational and labor market success. Analyzing returns of investments during different periods of life is therefore economically meaningful. We evaluate the effects of a substantial increase in the amount of curriculum per unit of time (learning intensity) at the end of higher secondary schooling on nine types of these skills. The results show no influence on the acquisition of noncognitive skills, indicating that personality does rather not depend on schooling investments in late adolescence. --
    Keywords: Noncognitive skills,human capital formation,learning intensity,natural experiment,Big Five,Locus of Control,Reciprocity,Self-Control
    JEL: I21 I28 J24 C21
    Date: 2011

This nep-cbe issue is ©2011 by Marco Novarese. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
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