nep-cbe New Economics Papers
on Cognitive and Behavioural Economics
Issue of 2023‒10‒09
five papers chosen by
Marco Novarese, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Planning to cheat: Temptation and self-control By Caliari, Daniele; Soraperra, Ivan
  2. Dishonesty as a collective‐risk social dilemma By Shuguang Jiang; Marie Claire Villeval
  3. Do Losses Matter? The Effect of Information-Search Technologies on Risky Choices By Luigi Mittone; Mauro Papi
  4. Mindfulness Training, Cognitive Performance and Stress Reduction By Gary Charness; Yves Le Bihan; Marie Claire Villeval
  5. Historical Narratives about the COVID-19 Pandemic are Motivationally Biased By Philipp Sprengholz; Luca Henkel; Robert Böhm; Cornelia Betsch

  1. By: Caliari, Daniele; Soraperra, Ivan
    Abstract: Are opportunities making thieves? Accumulated experimental evidence shows that, when people have the opportunity to cheat, often they take it. Most of the literature on cheating opportunities forces people into a tempting situation where they face a trade-off between money and morality. In our paper, we ask whether people are sophisticated in their cheating behavior and whether they search for or avoid these trade-offs. Overall, participants in the experiment exhibit very little temptation, i.e., virtually no one is willing to pay a cost to avoid the possibility of misreporting in a coin-flip-like task, and they are able to consistently stick to their plan. Participants with a strict preference for the tempting situation, i.e., who are planning to cheat, show a winning rate of about 95% and those that are indifferent between having and not having the opportunity, i.e., who are planning to be honest, show a winning rate that is close to 50%.
    Keywords: temptation and self-control, cheating, unethical behavior, lab experiment
    JEL: B41 C91 C93
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Shuguang Jiang; Marie Claire Villeval (GATE - GATE - GATE - Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique -UMR5824)
    Abstract: We investigated lying as a collective‐risk social dilemma. Misreporting resulted in increased individual earnings but when total claims reached a certain threshold, all group members were at risk of collective sanction, regardless of their individual behavior. Due to selfishness and miscoordination, most individuals earned less than the reservation payoff from honest reporting in the group. However, preferences for truth‐telling lowered the risk of collective sanction in this setting compared to a social dilemma game in which players could make direct claims without lying. The risk of sanctions decreased with risk aversion and a smaller group size.
    Keywords: Dishonesty, Collective Risk, Public Bad, Group Size, Individualism, D01
    Date: 2023–07–10
  3. By: Luigi Mittone; Mauro Papi
    Abstract: Despite its importance, relatively little attention has been devoted to studying the effects of exposing individuals to digital choice interfaces. In two pre-registered lottery-choice experiments, we administer three information-search technologies that are based on well-known heuristics: in the ABS (alternative-based search) treatment, subjects explore outcomes and corresponding probabilities within lotteries; in the CBS (characteristic-based search) treatment, subjects explore outcomes and corresponding probabilities across lotteries; in the Baseline treatment, subjects view outcomes and corresponding probabilities all at once. We find that (i) when lottery outcomes comprise gains and losses (experiment 1), exposing subjects to the CBS technology systematically makes them choose safer lotteries, compared to the subjects that are exposed to the other technologies, and (ii) when lottery outcomes comprise gains only (experiment 2), the above results are reversed: exposing subjects to the CBS technology systematically makes them choose riskier lotteries. By combining the information-search and choice analysis, we offer an interpretation of our results that is based on prospect theory, whereby the information-search technology subjects are exposed to contributes to determine the level of attention that the lottery attributes receive, which in turn has an effect on the reference point.
    Date: 2023–09
  4. By: Gary Charness (Department of Economics, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA); Yves Le Bihan (Institut Français du Leadership Positif. 4 place Amédée Bonnet 69002 Lyon, France); Marie Claire Villeval (Univ Lyon, CNRS, GATE UMR 5824, F-69130 Ecully, France; IZA, Bonn, Germany)
    Abstract: Improving cognitive function and reducing stress may yield important benefits to individuals’ health and to society. We conduct an experiment involving a three-month within-firm training program based on the principles of mindfulness and positive psychology at three large companies. We find an improvement in the difference-in-differences across the training and control groups in all five non-incentivized measures and in seven of the eight incentivized tasks but only the non-incentivized measures and one of the incentivized measures reached a standard level of significance (above 5%), showing strong evidence of its impact on both reducing perceived stress and increasing self-reported cognitive flexibility and mindfulness. At the aggregate level, we identify an average treatment effect on the treated for the non-incentivized measures and some effect for the incentivized measures. Remarkably, the treatment effects persisted three months after the training sessions ended. Overall, mindfulness training seems to provide benefits for psychological and cognitive health in adults.
    Keywords: Mindfulness, Attention, Cognition, Stress, Lab-in-the-Field Experiment
    JEL: C91 I12
    Date: 2023
  5. By: Philipp Sprengholz (Institute of Psychology, University of Bamberg, Germany; Institute for Planetary Health Behaviour, University of Erfurt, Germany; Implementation Science, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany); Luca Henkel (Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, University of Chicago, United States of America; Department of Economics, University of CEMA, Argentina); Robert Böhm (Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Austria; Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark); Cornelia Betsch (Institute for Planetary Health Behaviour, University of Erfurt, Germany; Implementation Science, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany)
    Abstract: How people recall the SARS-CoV2 pandemic is likely to prove crucial in future societal debates on pandemic preparedness and appropriate political action. Beyond simple forgetting, previous research suggests that recall may be distorted by strong motivations and anchoring perceptions on the current situation. Here, based on four studies across 11 countries (total N = 10, 776), we show that recall of perceived risk, trust in institutions and protective behaviours depended strongly on current evaluations. While both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals were affected by this bias, people who identified strongly with their vaccination status — whether vaccinated or unvaccinated — tended to exhibit greater and, importantly, opposite distortions of recall. Biased recall was not reduced by providing information about common recall errors or small monetary incentives for accurate recall, but partially by high incentives. Thus, it seems that motivation and identity influence the direction in which the recall of the past is distorted. Biased recall was further related to the evaluation of past political action and future behavioural intent, including adhering to regulations during a future pandemic or punishing politicians and scientists. Taken together, the findings indicate that historical narratives about the COVID-19 pandemic are motivationally biased, sustain societal polarization and affect preparation for future pandemics. Consequently, future measures must look beyond immediate public health implications to the longer-term consequences for societal cohesion and trust.
    Keywords: Memory, identity, polarization, motivated recall
    JEL: C91 D83 D91
    Date: 2023–09

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