nep-cbe New Economics Papers
on Cognitive and Behavioural Economics
Issue of 2022‒03‒28
five papers chosen by
Marco Novarese
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Interactive experiments in Toloka By Chapkovski, Philipp
  2. Eye image effect in the context of pedestrian safety: a French questionnaire study By Sueur, Cédric; Piermattéo, Anthony; Pelé, Marie
  3. Fear and Promise of the Unknown: How Losses Discourage and Promote Exploration By Chin, Alycia; Hagmann, David; Loewenstein, George
  4. Narratives, Imperatives, and Moral Persuasion By Roland Bénabou; Armin Falk; Jean Tirole
  5. Visual attention modulates the integration of goal-relevant evidence and not value By Pradyumna Sepulveda; Marius Usher; Ned Davies; Amy Benson; Pietro Ortoleva

  1. By: Chapkovski, Philipp
    Abstract: The popularity of online behavioral experiments grew steadily even before the COVID-19 pandemic. With the start of lockdowns, online studies were often the only available option for the behavioral economists, sociologists and political scientists. The usage of most well-known platforms such as mTurk was so intensive that it harmed the quality of data. But even before the pandemics-induced quality crisis, online studies were limited in scope, since real-time interactions between participants were hard to achieve due to the large proportion of drop-outs and issues with creating stable groups. Using the crowdsourcing platform Toloka, we successfully ran several multi-round interactive experiments. Toloka’s large online audience, relatively low exposure of participants to sociological surveys and behavioral studies, and a convenient application programming interface makes it a perfect tool to run behavioral studies that require real-time interactions of participants.
    Keywords: Crowdsourcing, mTurk, online research, survey research
    JEL: B41 C81 C88 C90 C92
    Date: 2022–02–03
  2. By: Sueur, Cédric; Piermattéo, Anthony; Pelé, Marie
    Abstract: Introduction: Human behavior is therefore influenced by the presence of others, which scientists also call ‘the audience effect’. The use of social control to produce more cooperative behaviors may positively influence road use and safety. This study uses an online questionnaire to test how eyes images affect the behavior of pedestrians when crossing a road. Material and methods: Different eyes images of men, women and a child with different facial expressions -neutral, friendly and angry- were presented to participants who were asked what they would feel by looking at these images before crossing a signalized road. Participants completed a questionnaire of 20 questions about pedestrian behaviors (PBQ). The questionnaire was received by 1,447 French participants, 610 of whom answered the entire questionnaire. 71% of participants were women, and the mean age was 35±14 years. Results: Eye images give individuals the feeling they are being observed at 33%, feared at 5% and surprised at 26%, and thus seem to indicate mixed results about avoiding crossing at the red light. The expressions shown in the eyes are also an important factor: feelings of being observed increased by about 10-15% whilst feelings of being scared or inhibited increased by about 5% as the expression changed from neutral to friendly to angry. No link was found between the results of our questionnaire and those of the Pedestrian Behavior Questionnaire (PBQ). Conclusion: This study shows that the use of eye images could reduce illegal crossings by pedestrians, and is thus of key interest as a practical road safety tool. However, the effect is limited and how to increase this nudge effect needs further consideration.
    Date: 2021–10–12
  3. By: Chin, Alycia; Hagmann, David (Harvard University); Loewenstein, George
    Abstract: Many situations involving search, such as commuters trying out new routes or organizations testing new procedures, can subject the explorer to the potential for subjective losses – situations that are worse than the status quo. How does the potential for experiencing losses during the course of a search affect individuals’ appetite for exploration? In three incentivized studies, we manipulate search outcomes by presenting participants either with a gain-only environment or a gain-loss environment. The gain-loss environment offers identical relative incentives for exploration, but payoffs are shifted down and participants receive an initial endowment to offset the difference. In both conditions, participants engage in a novel search task in which they decide how to explore a one-dimensional environment, receiving payoffs based on their location in each period. Payoffs between neighboring options are correlated, and movement is restricted in each turn to immediately adjacent locations. We predict and find that participants are motivated to avoid losses, which increases exploration when they are incurring losses, but decreases exploration when they face the prospect of losses. We conclude that exploration is driven by hope of anticipated gains, constrained by fear of anticipated losses, and motivated by avoidance of experienced losses.
    Date: 2021–10–12
  4. By: Roland Bénabou (Princeton University); Armin Falk (University of Bonn); Jean Tirole (University of Toulouse Capitole)
    Abstract: We study the production and circulation of arguments justifying actions on the basis of morality. By downplaying externalities, exculpatory narratives allow people to maintain a positive image while acting selfishly. Conversely, responsibilizing narratives raise both direct and reputational stakes, fostering prosocial behavior. These rationales diffuse along a linear network, through both costly signaling and strategic disclosure. The norms that emerge reflect local correlation in agents’ incentives (reputation versus influence concerns), with low mixing generating both a polarization of beliefs across groups and less moral behavior on average. Imperatives (general precepts) constitute an alternative mode of moral influence. We analyze their costs and benefits relative to those of narratives, and when the two will be used as substitutes or complements.
    Keywords: Moral behavior, narratives, imperatives, rules, excuses, responsibility, networks, viral transmission, influence, reputation, disclosure, communication, social norms
    JEL: D62 D64 D78 D83 D85 D91 H41 K42 L14 Z13
    Date: 2020–04
  5. By: Pradyumna Sepulveda (University College London); Marius Usher (Tel Aviv University); Ned Davies (University College London); Amy Benson (University College London); Pietro Ortoleva (Princeton University)
    Abstract: When choosing between options, such as food items presented in plain view, people tend to choose the option they spend longer looking at. The prevailing interpretation is that visual attention increases value. However, in previous studies, ‘value’ was coupled to a behavioural goal, since subjects had to choose the item they preferred. This makes it impossible to discern if visual attention has an effect on value, or, instead, if attention modulates the information most relevant for the goal of the decision-maker. Here we present the results of two independent studies—a perceptual and a value-based task—that allow us to decouple value from goal-relevant information using specific task-framing. Combining psychophysics with computational modelling, we show that, contrary to the current interpretation, attention does not boost value, but instead it modulates goal-relevant information. This work provides a novel and more general mechanism by which attention interacts with choice.
    Keywords: Value-based decision, Metacognition, Attention, Computational Modelling, Framing, Eye-tracking
    JEL: D70 D79
    Date: 2020–04

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