nep-cbe New Economics Papers
on Cognitive and Behavioural Economics
Issue of 2021‒01‒04
four papers chosen by
Marco Novarese
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Ethics of randomized field experiments: Evidence from a randomized survey experiment By Yokoo, Hide-Fumi
  2. Gender, overconfidence, and optimal group composition for investment decisions By Baiba Renerte; Jan Hausfeld; Torsten Twardawski
  3. From asking to observing. Behavioural measures of socio-emotional and motivational skills in large-scale assessments By Francesca Borgonovi; Alessandro Ferrara; Mario Piacentini
  4. Are Women Less Effective Leaders Than Men? Evidence from Experiments Using Coordination Games By Lea Heursen; Eva Ranehill; Roberto A. Weber

  1. By: Yokoo, Hide-Fumi
    Abstract: To conduct randomized field experiments while easing the disutility of subjects and the concerns of practitioners, I empirically study the ethical concerns held by potential subjects. Two types of online surveys are implemented, targeting approximately 2,000 respondents each. In the first survey, respondents are asked whether they recognize ethical issues in six existing experiments conducted by economists. Among these six experiments, an early childhood intervention is recognized as the most acceptable, while a charitable fund-raising experiment using lotteries is recognized as the least acceptable from an ethical perspective. To investigate methods to ease such ethical concerns, I conduct the second survey in which respondents are randomly assigned to four groups and shown different descriptions of the studies, which adopt different research designs. From this randomized survey, I find a nonsignificant impact of changing the research methodology from a randomized field experiment to an uncontrolled before-after study. Changing the topic of the study from charitable giving to other behaviors decreases respondents' unethical feelings. However, ethical concerns significantly increase when informed consent is not enough or when subjects are randomly sampled. These findings support a randomized experiment with agreed-upon participants, although it may limit the external validity of the experiment.
    Keywords: Ethical issues, Field experiments, Online surveys, Randomized controlled trials
    JEL: C93 D63 O22
    Date: 2020–11
  2. By: Baiba Renerte; Jan Hausfeld; Torsten Twardawski
    Abstract: How to compose boards of directors for optimal investment decision making? Depending on the group composition, each member’s characteristics — like gender and motivated beliefs — can influence the final group decision, especially if the particular investment situation leaves room for decision biases. We design two types of investment situations in a laboratory experiment — one with fixed chances of success and one with performancedependent chances of success. Our design entails the board members’ perceived ability to “beat the odds” of the market and thus models real-life investment situations more accurately than standard lottery choices. We find support for mixed group composition in terms of both gender and overconfidence: Groups with more men and more overconfident group members overinvest when a possibility to “beat the odds” is present, while standard situations do not allow for such pronounced effects. We explore several channels for our results, including (i) risk perception, (ii) responsibi lity allocation and (iii) spillover effects from priming and communication.
    Keywords: motivated beliefs, overconfidence, gender differences, risky decisions, laboratory experiment, experimental finance
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Francesca Borgonovi (UCL Social Research Institute, United Kingdom); Alessandro Ferrara (Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Italy); Mario Piacentini (Directorate for Education and Skills, France)
    Abstract: Socio-emotional and motivational skills are routinely measured using self-reports in large-scale educational assessments. Measures exploiting test-takers’ behaviour during the completion of questionnaires or cognitive tests are increasingly used as alternatives to self-reports in the economics of education literature. We use cross-sectional and longitudinal evidence to evaluate if behavioural measures can provide unbiased measures of socio-emotional and motivational skills to be used in empirical research using data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). We find that behavioural measures capture important aspects of students’ academic profiles: some are importantly associated with contemporaneous performance and educational attainment. However, these measures are only limitedly correlated among themselves and have low correlations with self-report measures of the same constructs. Moreover, behavioural measures have different levels of stability over time and sensitivity to design considerations. These results suggest that more research is needed before measures of students’ behaviour on a cognitive test can be used as valid indicators of socio-emotional and motivational skills.
    Keywords: Socio-emotional and motivational skills; cross-country; PISA; large-scale assessments; behavioural measures; self-reports; education.
    JEL: I20 I24 I26
    Date: 2020–12–01
  4. By: Lea Heursen; Eva Ranehill; Roberto A. Weber
    Abstract: We study whether one reason behind female underrepresentation in leadership is that female leaders are less effective at coordinating action by followers. Two experiments using coordination games investigate whether female leaders are less successful than males in persuading followers to coordinate on efficient equilibria. Group performance hinges on higher-order beliefs about the leader’s capacity to convince followers to pursue desired actions, making beliefs that women are less effective leaders potentially self-confirming. We find no evidence that such bias impacts actual leadership performance, identifying a precisely-estimated null effect. We show that this absence of an effect is surprising given experts’ priors.
    Keywords: gender, coordination games, leadership, experiment
    JEL: D23 C72 C92 J10
    Date: 2020

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