nep-cbe New Economics Papers
on Cognitive and Behavioural Economics
Issue of 2022‒07‒18
six papers chosen by
Marco Novarese
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Cognitive Uncertainty and Overconfidence By Andrea Amelio
  2. Leveraging the Honor Code: Public Goods Contributions under Oath By Jérôme Hergueux; Nicolas Jacquemet; Stéphane Luchini; Jason Shogren
  3. Dynamic Regret Avoidance By Michele Fioretti; Alexander Vostroknutov; Giorgio Coricelli
  4. How Does Choice Affect Beliefs? By Hajdu, Gergely; Krusper, Balázs
  5. Cognitive Endurance as Human Capital By Christina L. Brown; Supreet Kaur; Geeta Kingdon; Heather Schofield
  6. Assortativity in cognition By Ennio Bilancini; Leonardo Boncinelli; Eugenio Vicario

  1. By: Andrea Amelio (University of Bonn)
    Abstract: Overconfidence is one of the most ubiquitous cognitive bias. There is copious evidence of overconfidence being relevant in a diverse set of economic domains. In this paper, we relate the recent concept of cognitive uncertainty with overconfidence. Cognitive uncertainty represents a decision maker's uncertainty about her action optimality. We present a simple model of overconfidence based on the concept of cognitive uncertainty. The model relates the concepts theoretically and generates testable predictions. We propose an experimental paradigm to cleanly identify such theoretical relationships. In particular, we focus on overplacement and we find that, as predicted, cognitive uncertainty is inversely related to overplacement. Exogenously manipulating cognitive uncertainty through compound choices, we are able to show a causal relationship with overplacement. Evidence on these relationships allows to link overplacement with other behavioral anomalies explained through cognitive uncertainty.
    Keywords: Cognitive Uncertainty, Overconfidence, Overplacement, Cognitive Noise, Experiments
    JEL: D91 C91 D83
    Date: 2022–06
  2. By: Jérôme Hergueux (BETA - Bureau d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - AgroParisTech - UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg - UL - Université de Lorraine - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement); Nicolas Jacquemet (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Stéphane Luchini (AMSE - Aix-Marseille Sciences Economiques - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Jason Shogren (UW - University of Wyoming)
    Abstract: Public good games are at the core of many environmental challenges. In such social dilemmas, a large share of people endorse the norm of reciprocity. A growing literature complements this finding with the observation that many players exhibit a self-serving bias in reciprocation: "weak reciprocators" increase their contributions as a function of the effort level of the other players, but less than proportionally. In this paper, we build upon a growing literature on truth-telling to argue that weak reciprocity might be best conceived not as a preference, but rather as a symptom of an internal trade-off at the player level between (i) the truthful revelation of their private reciprocal preference, and (ii) the economic incentives they face (which foster free-riding). In truth-telling experiments, many players misrepresent private information when this is to their material benefit, but to a significantly lesser extent than what would be expected based on the profit-maximizing strategy. We apply this behavioral insight to strategic situations, and test whether the preference revelation properties of the classic voluntary contribution game can be improved by offering players the possibility to sign a classic truth-telling oath. Our results suggest that the honesty oath helps increase cooperation (by 33% in our experiment). Subjects under oath contribute in a way which is more consistent with (i) the contribution they expect from the other players and (ii) their normative views about the right contribution level. As a result, the distribution of social types elicited under oath differs from the one observed in the baseline: some free-riders, and many weak reciprocators, now behave as pure reciprocators.
    Keywords: Cooperation,Reciprocity,Social preferences,Public goods,Truth-telling oath
    Date: 2022–03
  3. By: Michele Fioretti (ECON - Département d'économie (Sciences Po) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Alexander Vostroknutov (Maastricht University [Maastricht]); Giorgio Coricelli (USC - University of Southern California)
    Abstract: In a stock market experiment, we examine how regret avoidance influences the decision to sell an asset while its price changes over time. Participants know beforehand whether they will observe the future prices after they sell the asset or not. Without future prices, participants are affected only by regret about previously observed high prices (past regret), but when future prices are available, they also avoid regret about expected after-sale high prices (future regret). Moreover, as the relative sizes of past and future regret change, participants dynamically switch between them. This demonstrates how multiple reference points dynamically influence sales. (JEL C91, G12, G41)
    Keywords: stock market behavior,behavioral finance,regret avoidance,dynamic regret,dynamic discrete choice,structural models,experiments,multiple reference points
    Date: 2022–02–01
  4. By: Hajdu, Gergely; Krusper, Balázs
    Abstract: People tend to think more favorably about a product when they own it compared to when they do not own it. Going beyond the effect of ownership, we study how choosing a product affects beliefs about the values of products in the choice set. In the laboratory, participants either choose a product from a binary choice set or have one of the two products randomly assigned to them. To deal with the endogeneity in choices, we construct information that is both sufficiently clear to make choices predictable and sufficiently unclear to leave room for belief distortions. We find that making a choice increases the difference in beliefs between the two alternatives, and the effect is driven by pessimism: when a product is non-chosen, it is believed to be worse than when the same product is not assigned. When participants choose a product, but we shift their attention toward product evaluation, pessimism disappears, suggesting attention as an important driver. Since choices are often made under uncertainty, the effect we identify may play a role in a potentially wide range of settings. Our findings also have policy implications: active choice policies may be more effective tools than opt-out defaults.
    Keywords: biased beliefs, ownership, behavioral economics, choice effect
    Date: 2022–05
  5. By: Christina L. Brown; Supreet Kaur; Geeta Kingdon; Heather Schofield
    Abstract: Schooling may build human capital not only by teaching academic skills, but by expanding the capacity for cognition itself. We focus specifically on cognitive endurance: the ability to sustain effortful mental activity over a continuous stretch of time. As motivation, we document that globally and in the US, the poor exhibit cognitive fatigue more quickly than the rich across field settings; they also attend schools that offer fewer opportunities to practice thinking for continuous stretches. Using a field experiment with 1,600 Indian primary school students, we randomly increase the amount of time students spend in sustained cognitive activity during the school day—using either math problems (mimicking good schooling) or non-academic games (providing a pure test of our mechanism). Each approach markedly improves cognitive endurance: students show 22% less decline in performance over time when engaged in intellectual activities—listening comprehension, academic problems, or IQ tests. They also exhibit increased attentiveness in the classroom and score higher on psychological measures of sustained attention. Moreover, each treatment improves students’ school performance by 0.09 standard deviations. This indicates that the experience of effortful thinking itself—even when devoid of any subject content—increases the ability to accumulate traditional human capital. Finally, we complement these results with quasi-experimental variation indicating that an additional year of schooling improves cognitive endurance, but only in higher-quality schools. Our findings suggest that schooling disparities may further disadvantage poor children by hampering the development of a core mental capacity.
    JEL: D90 I24 I25 O12
    Date: 2022–06
  6. By: Ennio Bilancini; Leonardo Boncinelli; Eugenio Vicario
    Abstract: In pairwise interactions assortativity in cognition means that pairs where both decision-makers use the same cognitive process are more likely to occur than what happens under random matching. In this paper we study both the mechanisms determining assortativity in cognition and its effects. In particular, we analyze an applied model where assortativity in cognition helps explain the emergence of cooperation and the degree of prosociality of intuition and deliberation, which are the typical cognitive processes postulated by the dual process theory in psychology. Our findings rely on agent-based simulations, but analytical results are also obtained in a special case. We conclude with examples showing that assortativity in cognition can have different implications in terms of its societal desirability.
    Keywords: Assortativity, cognition, deliberation, intuition, cooperation
    JEL: C73 D91 C63
    Date: 2022

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