nep-cbe New Economics Papers
on Cognitive and Behavioural Economics
Issue of 2016‒05‒08
seven papers chosen by
Marco Novarese
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Mentalism Versus Behaviourism in Economics: A Philosophy-of-Science Perspective By Franz Dietrich; Christian List
  2. Does Consumer’s Working Memory Matter? The Relationship between Working Memory and Selective Attention in Food Choice By Shen, Meng; Gao, Zhifeng
  3. Intuitive Cooperation and Punishment in the Field By Artavia-Mora, Luis; Bedi, Arjun S.; Rieger, Matthias
  4. Communication, sequentiality and strategic power. A prisoners’ dilemma experiment By Luigi Mittone; Andrew Musau
  5. Dissecting turst: Evidence From a Field Experiment in Rural Cameroon By Meriggi, Niccolo; Leuvelf, Koen
  6. On Peer Effects: Contagion of Pro- and Anti-Social Behavior in Charitable Giving and The Role of Social Identity By Eugen Dimant
  7. In sickness but not in wealth: field evidence on patients’ risk preferences in the financial and health domain By Matteo M. Galizzi; Marisa Miraldo; Charitini Stavropoulou

  1. By: Franz Dietrich (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Christian List (LSE - London School of Economics)
    Abstract: Behaviourism is the view that preferences, beliefs, and other mental states in social-scientific theories are nothing but constructs re-describing people's behaviour. Mentalism is the view that they capture real phenomena, on a par with the unobservables in science, such as electrons and electromagnetic fields. While behaviourism has gone out of fashion in psychology, it remains influential in economics, especially in 'revealed preference' theory. We defend mentalism in economics, construed as a positive science, and show that it fits best scientific practice. We distinguish mentalism from, and reject, the radical neuroeconomic view that behaviour should be explained in terms of brain processes, as distinct from mental states.
    Keywords: decision theory,scientific realism,Mentalism,behaviourism,revealed preference
    Date: 2016–04–21
  2. By: Shen, Meng; Gao, Zhifeng
    Abstract: The capacity to perform complex cognitive tasks depends on the ability to retain task-relevant information in an accessible state (working memory) and to selectively process information in the environment (selective attention). Due to working memory capacity limits, people usually filter out irrelevant information and instead focus on important information. Will consumer’s working memory capacity affect their attention and further their choice? Our study uses choice experiments (CE) to investigate the effect of working memory capacity on attention and choice. Evidence suggests that consumer’s working memory capacity will indeed affect their attention and choice.
    Keywords: Working Memory, Selective Attention, Choice Experiment, Consumer/Household Economics, Institutional and Behavioral Economics,
    Date: 2016
  3. By: Artavia-Mora, Luis (ISS, Erasmus University Rotterdam); Bedi, Arjun S. (ISS, Erasmus University Rotterdam); Rieger, Matthias (ISS, Erasmus University Rotterdam)
    Abstract: We test whether humans are intuitively inclined to cooperate with or punish strangers using a natural field experiment. We exogenously vary the time available to help a stranger in an everyday situation. Our findings suggest that subjects intuitively tend to help but behave more selfishly as thinking time increases. We also present suggestive evidence that time pressure can increase rates of punishment. We discuss our results with respect to findings in the lab on cognitive models of dual-processing and the origins of human cooperation.
    Keywords: cooperation, punishment, response time, dual-process of cognition, natural field experiment
    JEL: D03 D63 D64
    Date: 2016–04
  4. By: Luigi Mittone; Andrew Musau
    Abstract: One shot two-player sequential game experiments are characterized by an asymmetry in the observed payoffs of participants. In the ultimatum game, for example, the distribution favors first-movers, whereas in the in- vestment game, it favors second movers. A comparison to sequential move games are symmetric simultaneous move games, which entail symmetry in actions and payoffs. We experimentally examine the role of first-mover anticipated communication on the inter-player strategic power dynamics that exist in a symmetric simultaneous move prisoners’ dilemma, and a sequential move investment game, and show that such communication has a significant effect in inducing payoff asymmetries in symmetric games.
    Keywords: strategic power, communication, prisoners’ dilemma, investment game, experiment
    JEL: C72 C91
    Date: 2016
  5. By: Meriggi, Niccolo; Leuvelf, Koen
    Abstract: Trust plays a key role in promoting cooperation, exchanges, and interactions among individuals and therefore it is believed to foster economic and societal development. Sender's behaviour in the popular "investment game" (Berg et al. 1995) is widely employed to measure trust among individuals, but recent economic literature has cast doubts on the accuracy of this measure of trust. These studies, however, were mostly conducted in controlled environmentsm having university students as subject polls. We played the "investment game" with 3320 rural households from 200 villages in the Adamawa region of Cameroon, recording for each participant his expectations of return on the edowment shared as first mover. In addition, participants played two additional games obtained by separating the "investment game" into two sub-games, "Triple dictator game" and "reverse triple dictator game"/ The latter two games were used to measure participants' altruism and distributional preferences. All participants were randomly assigned to two treatments with different secrecy levels to create exogenous variation in social pressure, and measure the effect of social norms on behaviour in investment game. We use behaviour observed in the sub games to test whether senders behaviour in the investment game only measures trust (and therefore a belief in someone else's trustworthiness), and whether trustworthiness in turn is a reciprocation of kindness with kindness, or unkindness with unkindness. We control for risk preferences and other demographics, and find that senders behaviour in the investment game measures mostly trust, but it is not an accurate measure of trust.
    Keywords: Consumer/Household Economics, Financial Economics,
    Date: 2015
  6. By: Eugen Dimant (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania)
    Abstract: Social interactions and the resulting peer effects loom large in both economic and social contexts. This is particularly true for the spillover of pro- and anti-social behavior in explaining how such behavior and norms spread across individual people, neighborhoods, or even cultures. Although we observe the outcomes of such contagion effects, little is known about the drivers and the underlying mechanisms, especially with respect to the role of social identity with one’s peers and the pro- and anti-sociality of behavior one is exposed to. We use a variant of a power-to-take dictator game to shed light on these aspects in a controlled laboratory setting. Our experiment contributes to the existing literature in two ways: first, using a novel approach of inducing social identification with one’s peers in the lab, our design allows us to analyze the spillover-effects of behavior under varied levels of social identity. Second, we study whether pro- and anti-social behavior are equally contagious. Our results suggest that anti-social behavior is more contagious than pro-social behavior and that the extent of social identification to one’s peers particularly drives the contagion of anti-social behavior. Our findings yield strong policy implications with regards to designing effective nudges and interventions to facilitate (reduce) pro- (anti-) social behavior.
    Keywords: anti-social behavior, behavioral contagion, charitable giving, peer effects, social identity
    JEL: C91 D03 D73 D81
    Date: 2016–04
  7. By: Matteo M. Galizzi; Marisa Miraldo; Charitini Stavropoulou
    Abstract: We present results from a hypothetical framed field experiment assessing whether risk preferences significantly differ across the health and financial domains when they are elicited through the same multiple price list paired-lottery method. We consider a sample of 300 patients attending outpatient clinics in a university hospital in Athens, during the Greek financial crisis. Risk preferences in finance are elicited using paired-lottery questions with hypothetical payments. The questions are adapted to the health domain by framing the lotteries as risky treatments in hypothetical healthcare scenarios. Using Maximum Likelihood methods, we estimate the degree of risk aversion, allowing for the estimates to be dependent on domain and individual characteristics. The subjects in our sample, who were exposed to both health and financial distress, tend to be less risk averse in the financial than in the health domain.
    Keywords: Behavioral experiments in health; Field experiments; Risk aversion
    JEL: G32
    Date: 2016

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