nep-cbe New Economics Papers
on Cognitive and Behavioural Economics
Issue of 2023‒08‒28
four papers chosen by
Marco Novarese, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Dark versus Light Personality Types and Moral Choice By Dickinson, David L.
  2. Order Effects in Eliciting Preferences By Kopsacheilis, Orestis; Goerg, Sebastian J.
  3. The Homer economicus narrative: from cognitive psychology to individual public policies By Guilhem Lecouteux
  4. Behavioural Responses to Unfair Institutions: Experimental Evidence on Rule Compliance, Norm Polarisation, and Trust By Columbus, Simon; Feld, Lars P.; Kasper, Matthias; Rablen, Matthew D.

  1. By: Dickinson, David L. (Appalachian State University)
    Abstract: Dark personality traits have been linked to behaviors commonly understood as unethical, such as fraud, bribe-taking, and marital infidelity. Presumably, more "light" personality traits may be associated with lesser tendencies to be unethical, but many individuals also possess both light and dark trait characteristics. This paper reports results from a preregistered study of over 2400 participants who completed validated short-form personality instruments to assess dark and light personality trait measures—the dark tetrad and a light "triad" of 3 personality dimensions were measured. Furthermore, participants completed 3 tasks of interest that contribute to an understanding or one's ethics: a task assessing prosociality, a task that presents a monetary temptation to be dishonest, and a hypothetical moral dilemma task. The results overall support the hypotheses that dark personality traits predict lower levels of prosociality, higher likelihood of dishonesty, and an increased willingness to make immoral choices overall. Potential mechanisms and implications are examined.
    Keywords: ethics, dark personality, moral choice, experiments
    JEL: C91 D91 D63
    Date: 2023–07
  2. By: Kopsacheilis, Orestis (Technical University of Munich); Goerg, Sebastian J. (Technische Universität München)
    Abstract: Having an accurate account of preferences help governments design better policies for their citizens, organizations develop more efficient incentive schemes for their employees and adjust their product to better suit their clients' needs. The plethora of elicitation methods most commonly used can be broadly distinguished between methods that rely on people self-assessing and directly stating their preferences (qualitative) and methods that are indirectly inferring such preferences through choices in some task (quantitative). Alarmingly, the two approaches produce systematically different conclusions about preferences and, therefore, survey designers often include both quantitative and qualitative items. An important methodological question that is hitherto unaddressed is whether the order in which quantitative and qualitative items are encountered affects elicited preferences. We conduct three, pre-registered, studies with a total of 3, 000 participants, where we elicit preferences about risk, time-discounting and altruism in variations of two conditions: 'Quantitative First' and 'Qualitative First'. We find significant and systematic order effects. Eliciting preferences through qualitative items first boosts inferred patience and altruism while using quantitative items first increases the cross-method correlation for risk and time preferences. We explore how monetary incentivization and introducing financial context modulates these results and discuss the implications of our findings in the context of nudging interventions as well as our understanding of the nature of preferences.
    Keywords: preferences, qualitative vs. quantitative measures, risk, altruism, patience
    JEL: C83 C91 D01 D91
    Date: 2023–07
  3. By: Guilhem Lecouteux (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - UNS - Université Nice Sophia Antipolis (1965 - 2019) - COMUE UCA - COMUE Université Côte d'Azur (2015-2019) - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UCA - Université Côte d'Azur, COMUE UCA - COMUE Université Côte d'Azur (2015-2019))
    Abstract: A common narrative among some behavioural economists and policy makers is that experimental psychology highlights that individuals are more like Homer Simpson than the Mr Spock imagined by neoclassical economics, and that this justifies policies aiming to ‘correct' individual behaviours. This narrative is central to nudging policies and suggests that a better understanding of individual cognition will lead to better policy prescriptions. I argue that this Homer economicus narrative is methodologically flawed, and that its emphasis on cognition advances a distorted view of public policies consisting in fixing malfunctioning individuals, while ignoring the characteristics of the socio-economic environment that influence individuals' behaviours.
    Keywords: homo economicus, rational choice, replication crisis, behaviourally informed policy, Homer Simpson and Mr Spock
    Date: 2023
  4. By: Columbus, Simon (University of Copenhagen); Feld, Lars P. (University of Freiburg); Kasper, Matthias (Walter Eucken Institute, Freiburg); Rablen, Matthew D. (University of Sheffield)
    Abstract: This study investigates the effects of unfair enforcement of institutional rules on public good contributions, personal and social norms, and trust. In a preregistered online experiment (n = 1, 038), we find that biased institutions reduce rule compliance compared to fair institutions. However, rule enforcement – fair and unfair – reduces norm polarisation compared to no enforcement. We also find that social heterogeneity lowers average trust and induces ingroup favouritism in trust. Finally, we find consistent evidence of peer effects: higher levels of peer compliance raise future compliance and spillover positively into norms and trust. Our study contributes to the literature on behavioural responses to institutional design and strengthens the case for unbiased rule enforcement.
    Keywords: public goods, compliance, social norms, trust, audits, biased rule enforcement, polarisation
    JEL: H41 C72 C91 C92
    Date: 2023–07

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