nep-cbe New Economics Papers
on Cognitive and Behavioural Economics
Issue of 2015‒03‒22
sixteen papers chosen by
Marco Novarese
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale “Amedeo Avogadro”

  1. Detecting motives for cooperation in public goods experiments By Takafumi Yamakawa; Yoshitaka Okano; Tatsuyoshi Saijo
  2. The Jurisdiction of the Man Within – Introspection, Identity, and Cooperation in a Public Good Experiment By Christoph Engel; Michael Kurschilgen
  3. Communication and Trust in Principal-Team Relationships: Experimental Evidence By Marco Kleine; Sebastian Kube
  4. Efficiency versus Stereotypes: an Experiment in Domestic Production By Hélène Couprie; Elisabeth Cudeville; Catherine Sofer
  5. Do Universities Shape Their Students' Personality? By Schurer, Stefanie; Kassenboehmer, Sonja C.; Leung, Felix
  6. The Role of Labels in Learning Statistically Dense and Statistically Sparse Categories By Alexey A. Kotov; Liana B. Agrba; Elizaveta V. Vlasova; Tatyana N. Kotova
  7. Gender Effects, Culture and Social Influence in the Dictator Game: An Italian Study By O'Higgins, Niall; Palomba, Arturo; Sbriglia, Patrizia
  8. A Nudge in the Dark. An artefactual experiment investigating the effects of priming in the presence of distractions By Michael Sanders
  9. Generosity and sharing among villagers: Do women give more? By Bezu, Sosina; Holden , Stein
  10. Can We Steer Income Comparison Attitudes by Information Provision?: Evidence from Randomized Survey Experiments in the US and the UK By Hitoshi Shigeoka; Katsunori Yamada
  11. I've booked you a place. Good luck. a field experiment applying behavioural science to improve attendance at high-impact recruitment events By Michael Sanders; Elspeth Kirkman
  12. On the Origins of Dishonesty: From Parents to Children By Houser, Daniel; List, John A.; Piovesan, Marco; Samek, Anya; Winter, Joachim K.
  13. Do Taxes Crowd Out Intrinsic Motivation? Field-Experimental Evidence from Germany By Pierre C. Boyer; Nadja Dwenger; Johannes Rincke
  14. Intuitive cooperation refuted: Commentary on Rand et al. (2012) and Rand et al. (2014) By Myrseth, Kristian Ove R.; Wollbrant, Conny E.
  15. Ambiguity aversion is the exception By Kocher, Martin G.; Lahno, Amrei Marie; Trautmann, Stefan T.
  16. The victim matters: Experimental evidence on lying, moral costs and moral cleansing By Meub, Lukas; Proeger, Till; Schneider, Tim; Bizer, Kilian

  1. By: Takafumi Yamakawa (Osaka University); Yoshitaka Okano (School of Economics and Management, Kochi University of Technology); Tatsuyoshi Saijo (School of Economics and Management, Kochi University of Technology)
    Abstract: This study clarifies the types of motives that are important as a source of cooperation in a linear public goods experiment. Our experimental design separates the contributions due to confusion, one-shot motives (which includes altruism, warm-glow, inequality aversion, and conditional cooperation), and multi-round motives (which includes a strategic motive under incomplete information, a failure of backward induction, and reciprocity). The experiment reveals that multi-round motives plays an important role in driving cooperative behavior. Confusion and one-shot motives play a minor role.
    Keywords: Cooperation, Motives, Public goods
    JEL: C72 C92 H41
    Date: 2015–03
  2. By: Christoph Engel (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn); Michael Kurschilgen (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)
    Abstract: According to Adam Smith (1790), human selfishness can be restrained by introspection. We test the effect of introspection on people’s willingness to cooperate in a public good game. Drawing on the concept of identity utility (George A. Akerlof and Rachel E. Kranton, 2000), we show theoretically that introspection may enhance cooperation by increasing the relative cost of deviating from one’s self-image. Experimentally, we induce introspection through the elicitation of (normative) expectations. Our results show that introspection causally increases cooperation. Both home-grown idealism and the experiences with the cooperativeness of the environment predict individual cooperativeness throughout the game.
    Keywords: experiment, Social Dilemma, Identity, Expectations, Introspection
    JEL: H41 D63 C90
    Date: 2015–01
  3. By: Marco Kleine (Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich); Sebastian Kube (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)
    Abstract: We study how upward communication – from workers to managers – about individual efforts affects the effectiveness of gift exchange as a contract-enforcement device for work teams. Our findings suggest that the use of such self-assessments can be detrimental to workers’ performance. In the controlled environment of a laboratory gift-exchange experiment, our workers regularly overstate their own contribution to the joint team output. Misreporting seems to spread distrust within the team of workers, as well as between managers and workers. This manifests itself in managers being less generous with workers’ payments, and in workers being more sensitive to the perceived kindness of their relative wage payments. By varying the source and degree of information about individual efforts between treatments, we see that precise knowledge about workers’ actual contributions to the team output is beneficial for the success of gift-exchange relationships. Yet, workers’ self-assessments can be a problematic tool to gather this information.
    JEL: J33 C92 M52
    Date: 2015–03
  4. By: Hélène Couprie (Université de Cergy-Pontoise); Elisabeth Cudeville (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne - Paris School of Economics); Catherine Sofer (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne - Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: Most household models assume that decisions taken inside the family are Pareto optimal. However, empirical studies cast doubts upon the efficiency assumption. The sharing of time among men and women between market work and household work is highly differentiated by gender. In this paper we examine whether couples deviate from efficiency in household production decisions, using an experimental design in which subjects are real couples. The aim of the experiment is to mimic the sharing of highly-gendered household tasks. We compare the sharing of gendered tasks to that of more neutral tasks. By measuring individual productivity in each task, we can see if couples tend to deviate from efficiency, and by how much in each case. As we show that they deviate more when sharing gendered tasks, we also explore why, looking at different possible explanations, and we find evidence of the impact of stereotypes on inefficiencies
    Keywords: Stereotypes; social norms; household production; time allocation; experiment; production function; household behavior; intra-household decision-making
    JEL: D13 J16 J22 C91 C92
    Date: 2015–03
  5. By: Schurer, Stefanie (University of Sydney); Kassenboehmer, Sonja C. (Monash University); Leung, Felix (University of Sydney)
    Abstract: We investigate whether universities select by, or also shape, their students' personality, as implied by the human capital investment model. Using a nationally representative sample of Australian adolescents followed over eight years, we find that youth conscientiousness, internal locus of control, and low extraversion strongly predict the probability of obtaining a university degree. However, university education does not shape those personality traits associated with a strong work ethic and intellect. Yet, it offsets a general decline in extraversion as individuals age and boosts the development of agreeableness for men from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our findings contribute to the discussion whether universities should teach their students broader skills.
    Keywords: university education, Big-Five personality traits, psychic cost, inequality, change in personality
    JEL: I12 J24
    Date: 2015–02
  6. By: Alexey A. Kotov (National Research University Higher School of Economics); Liana B. Agrba; Elizaveta V. Vlasova (Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)); Tatyana N. Kotova (Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA))
    Abstract: Subjects were given classic category formation tasks with feedback. We used two types of categories—statistically dense and statistically sparse. We conducted four experiments to assess the influence of sign type (experiment 1) and the interference of redundant actions performed with the sign (experiment 2) on the performance of learning different types of categories. We found that in the case of dense category formation, the visual distinction of the sign from other object features is more important. In the case of sparse category formation, easy verbalization is more important. Additionally we showed that verbal interference, directed at the actions with the sign, improves sparse category formation, but worsens dense category formation. The results of our experiments are discussed in accordance with the Competition Between Verbal and Implicit Systems (COVIS) model of multiple systems of categorization.
    Keywords: categorization, concept formation, sign, category structure, learning.
    JEL: C91
    Date: 2015
  7. By: O'Higgins, Niall (University of Salerno); Palomba, Arturo (University of Naples II); Sbriglia, Patrizia (University of Naples II)
    Abstract: There is little consensus on whether women are more generous than men; some research results indicate a higher propensity towards giving of female dictators, whilst others suggest the opposite. Two explanations have been put forward. According to the first one, women are more generous than men and the conflicting results are due to the way preferences are elicited (Eckel and Grossman, 2002), since women are more sensitive to "social cues" and their preferences are more "malleable" (Croson and Gneezy, 2009). According to the second one, the institutional culture and the role women have in society are key elements in shaping gender differences in preferences. In fact, in matrilineal societies (Gong et al.; 2014; Gneezy et al.; 2009), women are self-oriented, more competitive and less generous than men, since they have an important role as economic decision makers in the family and the society. We test these alternative hypotheses running Dictators experiments in Italy, a western country with a matrilineal culture, introducing – at the same time - social influence in the design. We find more support to the hypothesis on the cultural role in shaping preferences, rather than the effects of social influence.
    Keywords: social influence, gender, social preferences, experiments, dictator game
    JEL: C90 C91 D03 J16
    Date: 2015–02
  8. By: Michael Sanders
    Abstract: “Nudges" - small, usually cheap, interventions to alter the behaviour of individuals to improve their “health, wealth or happiness", are increasingly popular with governments and have thus far played a large role in the coalition government's attempts to encourage pro-social behaviour. The power of many of these nudges, such as the effect of priming in a trust-game type scenario, has been tested widely in the lab, but have proven difficult to replicate in the field. Although the laboratory allows a sterile environment, this is not always desirable - the real world is not sterile, and there are often many different factors competing for an individual's attention. We present the results of an experiment conducted during the course of a busy public engagement event at the University of Bristol, where members of the public, with little or no knowledge of economic theory, were invited to take part in a game during which they received incidental priming. We find that although the effect of...
    Date: 2014–07
  9. By: Bezu, Sosina (School of Economics and Business, Norwegian University of Life Sciences); Holden , Stein (School of Economics and Business, Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
    Abstract: This paper explores generosity among anonymous villagers and sharing within families using a dictator game field experiment that was carried out in rural villages in Ethiopia. We find that generosity among anonymous villagers is very low compared with the findings in the dictator game literature. On average, the dictators in our sample allocate only 6% of their endowments to anonymous persons in the village, and three-fourths of the dictators keep all of their endowments to themselves when paired with anonymous persons. However, we found very high levels of sharing between husband and wife. In terms of gender differences, we find that women are not more generous towards anonymous persons, nor are they more likely to share within their families. In fact, there is some evidence, albeit weak, showing that women allocate less to anonymous persons than do men. Additionally, there is strong evidence that women are less likely to share their resources with their spouse than are men.
    Keywords: Dictator game; generosity; sharing; field experiment; Ethiopia; Africa
    JEL: C93 D03 O12
    Date: 2015–03–12
  10. By: Hitoshi Shigeoka; Katsunori Yamada
    Abstract: Economists have long been concerned that negative attitudes about relative income reduce social welfare. This paper investigates whether such attitudes can be mitigated by a simple information treatment. Toward this end, we conducted an original randomized online survey experiment in the US and the UK. As a baseline result, we find that UK respondents compare their incomes with othersf at a much higher rate than US subjects do. Additionally, we find that our information treatment---suggesting that comparing income with others may diminish their welfare even when income levels are actually increasing---made respondents compare incomes more, rather than less. Interestingly, we find such effects only among UK respondents. The mechanism for this among UK respondents seems to be driven by those who are initially less comparison-conscious becoming more comparison-conscious, indicating that our information treatment gives moral glicenseh to make comparisons by informing that others actually do.
    Date: 2015–03
  11. By: Michael Sanders; Elspeth Kirkman
    Abstract: Finding a job, especially in a recovering economy, is challenging and success is reliant upon effective job-search activity. Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) welfare benefit claimants in the United Kingdom have many competing options available to them in terms of how they direct their efforts in looking for work. Often it is hard to determine which is most productive. Unsurprisingly, Jobcentres – the organisations that support JSA claimants during their unemployment – themselves have very strong links to the labour market. For example, they are often invited to run recruitment events in direct partnership with large employers seeking to hire in bulk. At Bedford Jobcentre, we observe that, despite the relatively high likelihood of gaining work from attending such events, jobseeker attendance rates are still low and, instead, we can only assume that jobseekers may be taking part in less productive work search activities.
    Date: 2014–12
  12. By: Houser, Daniel (George Mason University); List, John A. (University of Chicago); Piovesan, Marco (University of Copenhagen); Samek, Anya (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Winter, Joachim K. (University of Munich)
    Abstract: Acts of dishonesty permeate life. Understanding their origins, and what mechanisms help to attenuate such acts is an underexplored area of research. This study takes an economics approach to explore the propensity of individuals to act dishonestly across different economic environments. We begin by developing a simple model that highlights the channels through which one can increase or decrease dishonest acts. We lend empirical insights into this model by using an experiment that includes both parents and their young children as subjects. We find that the highest level of dishonesty occurs in settings where the parent acts alone and the dishonest act benefits the child rather than the parent. In this spirit, there is also an interesting effect of children on parents' behavior: in the child's presence, parents act more honestly, but there are gender differences. Parents act more dishonestly in front of sons than daughters. This finding has the potential of shedding light on the origins of the widely documented gender differences in cheating behavior observed among adults.
    Keywords: cheating, dishonesty, ethical judgment, social utility, field experiment
    JEL: C91 D63
    Date: 2015–03
  13. By: Pierre C. Boyer; Nadja Dwenger; Johannes Rincke
    Abstract: This paper studies how imposing norms on contribution behavior affects individuals' intrinsic motivation. We consider an urban area in Germany where the Catholic Church collects a local church levy as a charitable donation, despite the fact that the levy is legally a tax. In cooperation with the church, we design a natural randomized field experiment with letter treatments informing individuals that the church levy is in fact a tax. Guided by a simple theoretical model, we use baseline contribution behavior to measure individuals' intrinsic motivation and demonstrate that treatment effects differ strongly across motivational types. Among weakly intrinsically motivated individuals, communicating the existence of a legal norm results in a significant crowd-out of intrinsic motivation. In contrast, strongly intrinsically motivated individuals do not show any treatment response. We cross-validate our findings using alternative motivational measures derived from an extensive post-treatment survey.
    Keywords: intrinsic motivation, crowding out, charitable giving, taxes, public goods, natural randomized field experiment
    JEL: C93 D03 H26 H41
    Date: 2014–12
  14. By: Myrseth, Kristian Ove R. (School of Management, University of St. Andrews, St Andrews, KY16 9RJ, UK); Wollbrant, Conny E. (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: We show that Rand et al. (2012) and Rand et al. (2014)—who argue that cooperation is intuitive—provide an incorrect interpretation of their own data. They make the mistake of inferring intuition from relative decision times alone, without taking into account absolute decision times. We re-examine their data and find that the vast majority of their responses are slow, exceeding four seconds, even in time-pressure treatments intended to promote intuitive responses. Further, a plot of the average cooperation rates by decision time presents no clear relationship between decision time and cooperation. However, among the few decisions that were relatively fast (less than four seconds), there appears to be a positive—not negative— correlation between decision time and cooperation. We conclude that the data presented by Rand et al. (2012) and Rand et al. (2014) fail to provide evidence for the hypothesis that cooperation is intuitive. If anything, their data indicate the opposite.
    Keywords: Cooperation; Intuition; Decision times; Pro-social behavior
    JEL: D03 D64 H40
    Date: 2015–03
  15. By: Kocher, Martin G.; Lahno, Amrei Marie; Trautmann, Stefan T.
    Abstract: An extensive literature has studied ambiguity aversion in economic decision making, and how ambiguity aversion can account for empirically observed violations of expected utility-based theories. Almost all relevant applied models presume a general dislike of ambiguity. In this paper, we provide a systematic experimental assessment of ambiguity attitudes in different likelihood ranges and in the gain domain, the loss Domain and with mixed outcomes. We draw on a unified framework with more than 500 participants and find that ambiguity aversion is the exception, not the rule. We replicate the usual finding of ambiguity aversion for moderate likelihood gains. However, when introducing losses or lower likelihoods, we observe either ambiguity neutrality or even ambiguity seeking behavior. Our results are robust to different elicitation procedures.
    Keywords: ambiguity aversion; decision under uncertainty; Ellsberg experiments
    JEL: C91 D81
    Date: 2015
  16. By: Meub, Lukas; Proeger, Till; Schneider, Tim; Bizer, Kilian
    Abstract: In an experiment on moral cleansing with an endogenously manipulated moral self-image, we examine the relevance of the addressee of an immoral action. The treatments differ such that cheating on a die roll reduces either the experimenter´s or another subject´s payoff. We find that cheating is highest and moral cleansing lowest when subjects cheat at the expense of the experimenter, while cheating is lowest and moral cleansing highest once cheating harms another subject. A subsequent measurement of subjects´ moral self-image supports our interpretation that the occurrence of moral cleansing crucially depends on the moral costs resulting from immoral actions directed at individuals in different roles. Our results can help to explain the different propensity to cheat and conduct moral cleansing when immoral actions harm either another person or the representatives of an organization.
    Keywords: dictator game,laboratory experiment,lying,moral balancing,moral,cleansing,self-image
    JEL: C91 D1
    Date: 2015

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