nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2023‒06‒12
five papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Motivated Beliefs, Independence and Cooperation By Wei Huang; Yu Wang; Xiaojian Zhao
  2. Pro-Environmental Behavior and Actions: A Review of the Literature By Zehui, Zhao
  3. Social preferences: fundamental characteristics and economic consequences By Ernst Fehr; Gary Charness
  4. Learning, Diversity and Adaptation in Changing Environments: The Role of Weak Links By Daron Acemoglu; Asuman Ozdaglar; Sarath Pattathil
  5. Sentiment Analysis of Linguistic Data in Behavioral Research By Cero, Ian; Luo, Jiebo; Falligant, John

  1. By: Wei Huang (CUHK Business School, Chinese University of Hong Kong); Yu Wang (China Center For Behavioral Economics and Finance, Southwestern University of Finance and Economics); Xiaojian Zhao (Department of Economics, Monash Business School, Monash University)
    Abstract: Humans are social animals but sometimes stay alone. The paper theoretically investigates the connection between an intraperson game and an interperson interaction. Motivated beliefs supplied from memory management due to present bias in the individual investment problem give rise to a positive spillover on others through social interactions, suggesting that a high frequency of social interactions reduces an individual’s tendency to cooperate with others, exacerbating the free-riding problem. We also establish a positive relationship between overconfidence and prosocial behaviors. Evidence from cross-country observational data and cross-sectional data collected from an online experiment is largely consistent with our theoretical implications.
    Keywords: motivated beliefs, self-confidence, present bias, cooperation, cultural difference
    JEL: C91 D01 D91 O57 Z10
    Date: 2023–05
  2. By: Zehui, Zhao
    Abstract: This paper provides a comprehensive review of the literature on pro-environmental behavior and actions, highlighting key theories, empirical evidence, and practical implications for both sociology and economics. We begin by outlining the foundations of pro-environmental behavior research, drawing from the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991), the Value-Belief-Norm Theory (Stern, Dietz, & Guagnano, 1995), and the Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) as primary theoretical frameworks. We then discuss the role of individual, social, and contextual factors in shaping pro-environmental behaviors, focusing on the importance of personal values (Schwartz, 1992), environmental concern (Dunlap & Van Liere, 1978), social norms (Cialdini, Reno, & Kallgren, 1990), and self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977). Next, we explore the role of economic incentives in promoting pro-environmental actions, highlighting the effectiveness of market-based instruments, such as carbon pricing (Stavins, 1998) and environmental subsidies (Goulder & Parry, 2008), as well as non-market approaches, like nudges (Thaler & Sunstein, 2008) and informational campaigns (McKenzie-Mohr, 2011). We emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary approaches in understanding and promoting pro-environmental behavior, including the integration of behavioral economics (Shogren & Taylor, 2008) and social psychology (Gifford & Nilsson, 2014) within the broader field of environmental studies. In conclusion, we highlight the most promising avenues for future research, such as the role of digital technologies in fostering environmental engagement (Milkoreit et al., 2018), the impact of climate change communication on behavior change (Moser, 2010), and the potential for leveraging social networks and community-based initiatives to promote sustainable lifestyles (Burchell, Rettie, & Patel, 2013). By synthesizing the extensive body of literature on pro-environmental behavior and actions, this paper aims to guide both researchers and practitioners in developing more effective strategies to foster sustainable societies.
    Date: 2023–04–25
  3. By: Ernst Fehr; Gary Charness
    Abstract: We review the vast literature on social preferences by assessing what is known about their fundamental properties, their distribution in the broader population, and their consequences for important economic and political behaviors. We provide, in particular, an overview of the empirically identified characteristics of distributional preferences and how they are affected by merit, luck, and risk considerations as well as by concerns for equality of opportunity. In addition, we identify what is known about belief-dependent social preferences such as reciprocity and guilt aversion. The evidence indicates that the big majority of individuals have some sort of social preference while purely self-interested subjects are a minority. Our review also shows how the findings from laboratory experiments involving social preferences provide a deeper understanding of important field phenomena such as the consequences of wage inequality on work morale, employees’ resistance to wage cuts, individuals’ self-selection into occupations and sectors that are more or less prone to morally problematic behaviors, as well as issues of distributive politics. However, although a lot has been learned in recent decades about social preferences, there are still many important, unresolved, yet exciting, questions waiting to be tackled.
    Date: 2023–04
  4. By: Daron Acemoglu; Asuman Ozdaglar; Sarath Pattathil
    Abstract: Adaptation to dynamic conditions requires a certain degree of diversity. If all agents take the best current action, learning that the underlying state has changed and behavior should adapt will be slower. Diversity is harder to maintain when there is fast communication between agents, because they tend to find out and pursue the best action rapidly. We explore these issues using a model of (Bayesian) learning over a social network. Agents learn rapidly from and may also have incentives to coordinate with others to whom they are connected via strong links. We show, however, that when the underlying environment changes sufficiently rapidly, any network consisting of just strong links will do only a little better than random choice in the long run. In contrast, networks combining strong and weak links, whereby the latter type of links transmit information only slowly, can achieve much higher long-run average payoffs. The best social networks are those that combine a large fraction of agents into a strongly-connected component, while still maintaining a sufficient number of smaller communities that make diverse choices and communicate with this component via weak links.
    JEL: D83 D85
    Date: 2023–05
  5. By: Cero, Ian (University of Rochester Medical Center); Luo, Jiebo; Falligant, John
    Abstract: A complete science of human behavior requires a comprehensive account of the verbal behavior those humans exhibit. Existing behavioral theories of such verbal behavior have produced compelling insight into language’s underlying function, but the expansive program of research those theories deserve has unfortunately been slow to develop. We argue that the status quo’s manually implemented and study-specific coding systems are too resource intensive to be worthwhile for most behavior analysts. These high input costs in turn discourage research on verbal behavior overall. We propose lexicon-based sentiment analysis as a more modern and efficient approach to the study of human verbal products, especially naturally-occurring ones (e.g., psychotherapy transcripts, social media posts). In the present discussion, we introduce the reader to principles of sentiment analysis, highlighting its usefulness as a behavior analytic tool for the study of verbal behavior. We conclude with an outline of approaches for handling some of the more complex forms of speech, like negation, sarcasm, and speculation. The appendix also provides a worked example of how sentiment analysis could be applied to existing questions in behavior analysis, complete with code that readers can incorporate into their own work.
    Date: 2023–05–01

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