nep-cbe New Economics Papers
on Cognitive and Behavioural Economics
Issue of 2020‒02‒24
five papers chosen by
Marco Novarese
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Are you what you consume?: Impact of food, soft drinks, and coffee on cognitive and non-cognitive test scores By Sohnesen Thomas
  2. Do people harness deliberate ignorance to avoid envy and its detrimental effects? By Lisa Bruttel; Werner Güth; Ralph Hertwig; Andreas Orland
  3. Metacognitive ability predicts learning cue-stimulus associations in the absence of external feedback By Marine Hainguerlot; Jean-Christophe Vergnaud; Vincent de Gardelle
  4. Working too much for too little: stochastic rewards cause work addiction By Brice Corgnet; Simon Gaechter; Roberto Hernán González
  5. The behavioural lens: Taking a behavioural vantage point to improve the success of development programmes By Kaplan, Lennart; Kuhn, Sascha; Kuhnt, Jana

  1. By: Sohnesen Thomas
    Abstract: Cognitive and non-cognitive tests are key factors in many aspects of economics, especially within labour market analysis.Non-cognitive tests and personality traits are increasingly used, as these are found to be as critical as cognitive abilities for labour market outcomes, while they might be more malleable through life. Intake of caffeine and sugar immediately prior testing is also known to impact cognitive test scores, while almost nothing is known about any similar impact on personality test scores.This work shows, as a first, a significant impact from coffee on the personality trait locus of control. The impact from coffee on locus of control is so large that it significantly alters the results of an analysis of locus of control’s importance for labour market behaviour. Consumption of food, soft drinks, or coffee is found to have no impact on verbal, numerical, and Raven’s Progressive Matrices tests.The study is based on a large sample of university students in Mozambique.
    Keywords: Measurement error,non-cognitive test,Personality traits,glucose,Labour market,caffeine,Cognitive ability,cognitive test
    Date: 2019
  2. By: Lisa Bruttel (University of Potsdam, Germany); Werner Güth (Max Planck Institute for Collective Goods, Bonn, Germany); Ralph Hertwig (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany); Andreas Orland (University of Potsdam, Germany)
    Abstract: Envy is an unpleasant emotion. If individuals anticipate that comparing their payoff with the (potentially higher) payoff of others will make them envious, they may want to actively avoid information about other people’s payoffs. Given the opportunity to reduce another person’s payoff, an individual’s envy may trigger behavior that is detrimental to welfare. In this case, if individuals anticipate that they will react in a welfare-reducing way, they may also avoid information about other people’s payoffs from the outset. We investigated these two hypotheses using three experiments. We found that 13% of our potentially envious subjects avoided information when they did not have the opportunity to reduce another participant’s payoff. Psychological scales do not explain this behavior. We also found that voluntarily uninformed subjects did neither deduct less of the payoff nor less frequently than subjects who could not avoid the information.
    Keywords: envy, emotion regulation, deliberate ignorance, punishment, experiment
    JEL: C91 D23 D63 D83 D91
    Date: 2020–02
  3. By: Marine Hainguerlot (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Jean-Christophe Vergnaud (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Vincent de Gardelle (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, PSE - Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: Learning how certain cues in our environment predict specific states of nature is an essential ability for survival. However learning typically requires external feedback, which is not always available in everyday life. One potential substitute for external feedback could be to use the confidence we have in our decisions. Under this hypothesis, if no external feedback is available, then the agents' ability to learn about predictive cues should increase with the quality of their confidence judgments (i.e. metacognitive efficiency). We tested and confirmed this novel prediction in an experimental study using a perceptual decision task. We evaluated in separate sessions the metacognitive abilities of participants (N = 65) and their abilities to learn about predictive cues. As predicted, participants with greater metacognitive abilities learned more about the cues. Knowledge of the cues improved accuracy in the perceptual task. Our results provide strong evidence that confidence plays an active role in improving learning and performance.
    Date: 2018–12
  4. By: Brice Corgnet (Univ Lyon, emlyon business school, GATE UMR 5824, F-69130 Ecully, France); Simon Gaechter (Nottingham University, UK); Roberto Hernán González (CEREN EA 7477, Burgundy School of Business, Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, Dijon, France)
    Abstract: People are generally assumed to shy away from activities generating stochastic rewards, thus re-quiring extra compensation for handling any additional risk. In contrast with this view, neurosci-ence research with animals has shown that stochastic rewards may act as a powerful motivator. Applying these ideas to the study of work addiction in humans, and using a new experimental paradigm, we demonstrate how stochastic rewards may lead people to continue working on a repetitive and effortful task even after monetary compensation becomes saliently negligible. In line with our hypotheses, we show that persistence on the work task is especially pronounced when the entropy of stochastic rewards is high, which is also when the work task generates more stress to participants. We discuss the economic and managerial implications of our findings.
    Keywords: Incentives, Work Addiction, Occupational Health, Experiments
    JEL: C92 D87 D91 M54
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Kaplan, Lennart; Kuhn, Sascha; Kuhnt, Jana
    Abstract: Successful programmes and policies require supportive behaviour from their targeted populations. Understanding what drives human reactions is crucial for the design and implementation of development programmes. Research has shown that people are not rational agents and that providing them with financial or material incentives is often not enough to foster long-term behavioural change. For this reason, the consideration of behavioural aspects that influence an individual's actions, including the local context, has moved into the focus of development programmes. Disregarding these factors endangers the success of programmes. The World Bank brought this point forward forcefully with its 2015 World Development Report, "Mind, Society and Behavior", herewith supporting the focus on behavioural insights within development policies. While agencies may intuitively consider behavioural aspects during programme design and implementation, a systematic approach would improve programme effectiveness at a relatively small financial cost. For this reason, we present a framework - the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen, 1991) - that aids practitioners and researchers alike in considering important determinants of human behaviour during the design and implementation of development programmes The TPB suggests considering important determinants of human behaviour, such as the individual's attitude towards the intervention (influenced by previous knowledge, information or learning); subjective norms (influenced by important people, such as family members or superiors); and the individual's sense of behavioural control (influenced by a subjective assessment of barriers and enablers). The theory should be used early on in the programme design to perform a structured assessment of behavioural aspects in the appropriate context. Components of the TPB can often be addressed through cost-effective, easy changes to existing programmes. Simple guiding questions (see Box 1) can help integrate the theory into the programme design. An iterative and inclusive process, particularly in exchange with the targeted population and other stakeholders, increases success.
    Date: 2020

This nep-cbe issue is ©2020 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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