nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2010‒06‒11
eight papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. Estimating the technology of cognitive and noncognitive skill formation By Flavio Cunha; James Heckman; Susanne Schennach
  2. The role of parental investments for cognitive and noncognitive skill formation: Evidence for the first 11 years of life By Coneus, Katja; Laucht, Manfred; Reuß, Karsten
  3. Chess players' performance beyond 64 squares: A case study on the limitations of cognitive abilities transfer By Christoph Bühren; Björn Frank
  4. Differences in IQ predict Italian North-South differences in (among other things) income: a comment By Sergio Beraldo
  5. Consumer Ethics: The Role of Self-Regulatory Focus By T. DE BOCK; P. VAN KENHOVE;
  6. Height and Leadership By Lindqvist, Erik
  7. Priming and the Reliability of Subjective Well-being Measures By Sgroi, Daniel; Proto, Eugenio; Oswald, Andrew J.; Dobson, Alexander
  8. Mine and Thine: The Territorial Foundations of Human Property By Peter DeScioli; Bart J. Wilson

  1. By: Flavio Cunha; James Heckman (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Chicago); Susanne Schennach (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Chicago)
    Abstract: <p><p>This paper formulates and estimates multistage production functions for children's cognitive and noncognitive skills. Skills are determined by parental environments and investments at different stages of childhood. We estimate the elasticity of substitution between investments in one period and stocks of skills in that period to assess the benefits of early investment in children compared to later remediation. We establish nonparametric identification of a general class of production technologies based on nonlinear factor models with endogenous inputs. A by-product of our approach is a framework for evaluating childhood and schooling interventions that does not rely on arbitrarily scaled test scores as outputs and recognizes the differential effects of the same bundle of skills in different tasks. Using the estimated technology, we determine optimal targeting of interventions to children with different parental and personal birth endowments. Substitutability decreases in later stages of the life cycle in the production of cognitive skills. It is roughly constant across stages of the life cycle in the production of noncognitive skills. This finding has important implications for the design of policies that target the disadvantaged. For most configurations of disadvantage, it is optimal to invest relatively more in the early stages of childhood than in later stages.</p></p>
    Date: 2010–04
  2. By: Coneus, Katja; Laucht, Manfred; Reuß, Karsten
    Abstract: This paper examines the impact of parental investments on the development of cognitive, mental and emotional skills during childhood using data from a longitudinal study, the Mannheim Study of Children at Risk, starting at birth. Our work offers three important innovations. First, we use reliable measures of the child's cognitive, mental and emotional skills as well as accurate measures of parental investment. Second, we estimate latent factor models to account for unobserved characteristics of children. Third, we examine the skill development for girls and boys separately, as well as for children who were born with either organic or psychosocial risk. We find a decreasing impact of parental investments on cognitive and mental skills, while emotional skills seem to be unaffected by parental investment throughout childhood. Thus, initial inequality persists during childhood. Since families are the main sources of education during the first years of life, our results have important implications for the quality of the parent-child relationship. --
    Keywords: cognitive skills,noncognitive skills,critical and sensitive periods,self-productivity,inequality,organic risk,psychosocial risk
    JEL: I12 I21 J13
    Date: 2010
  3. By: Christoph Bühren (University of Kassel); Björn Frank (University of Kassel)
    Abstract: In a beauty contest experiment with over 6,000 chess players, ranked from amateur to world class, we found that Grandmasters act very similar to other humans. This even holds true when they play exclusively against players of approximately their own strength. In line with psychological research on chess players' thinking, we argue that they are not more rational in a game theoretic sense per se. Their skills are rather specific for their game.
    Keywords: chess, beauty contest, cognitive transfer
    JEL: C93 C72
    Date: 2010
  4. By: Sergio Beraldo
    Abstract: I provide a discourse on the article by Prof. Lynn (2010), which suggests that differences in intelligence explain per capita income levels across the Italian regions. To emphasize that his article is affected by flaws leading to false conclusions. This is clear as soon as some basic principles underpinning any rigorous scientific analysis are employed to discuss his findings.
    Keywords: IQ, Income, Education, Italy.
    Date: 2010–03
    Abstract: The present study investigates the influence of self-regulatory focus on consumer ethical beliefs (i.e., consumers’ judgment of various unethical consumer practices). The self-regulatory focus framework is highly influential and applies to an impressively wide spectrum of topics across a diverse array of domains. However, previous research has not yet examined the link between this personality construct and the consumer ethics field. Findings indicate that promotion affects one’s attitude toward questionable consumer practices with those having a stronger (versus weaker) promotion focus being more likely to believe these consumer misbehaviors to be acceptable. Further, this study shows that prevention influences one’s perception of morally dubious consumer practices with those having a stronger (versus weaker) prevention focus being more inclined to believe these questionable consumer activities to be unacceptable.
    Keywords: consumer ethical beliefs, consumer ethics, consumer ethics scale, personal characteristics, self-regulatory focus
    Date: 2010–04
  6. By: Lindqvist, Erik (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))
    Abstract: This paper studies the relationship between height and leadership. Using data from a representative sample of Swedish men, I document that tall men are significantly more likely to attain managerial positions. An increase in height by 10 centimeters (3.94 inches) is associated with a 2.2 percentage point increase in the probability of holding a managerial position. Selection into managerial positions explains about 15 percent of the unconditional height wage premium. However, at least half of the height-leadership correlation is due to a positive correlation between height and cognitive and noncognitive ability.
    Keywords: Height; Beauty; Leadership; Discrimination
    JEL: J24 J71
    Date: 2010–05–28
  7. By: Sgroi, Daniel (Department of Economics, University of Warwick); Proto, Eugenio (Department of Economics, University of Warwick); Oswald, Andrew J. (Department of Economics, University of Warwick); Dobson, Alexander (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)
    Abstract: Economists and behavioural scientists are beginning to make extensive use of measures of subjective well-being, and such data are potentially of value to policy-makers. A particularly famous difficulty is that of “priming”: if the order or nature of survey questions changes people’s likely replies then we have grounds to be concerned about the reliability of well-being data and inferences from them. This study tests for priming effects from important life events. It presents evidence from a laboratory experiment which indicates that subjective well-being measures are in general robust to such concerns.
    Keywords: happiness ; life satisfaction ; subjective well-being ; priming, surveys JEL Codes: D03 ; C83 ; C91
    Date: 2010
  8. By: Peter DeScioli (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University); Bart J. Wilson (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)
    Abstract: Research shows that many animal species have morphological and cognitive adaptations for fighting with others to gain resources, but it remains unclear how humans make fighting decisions. Non-human animals often adaptively calibrate fighting behavior to ecological variables such as resource quantity and whether the resource is distributed uniformly or clustered in patches. Also, many species use strategies to reduce fighting costs such as resolving disputes based on power asymmetries or conventions. Here we show that humans apply an ownership convention in response to the problem of severe fighting. We designed a virtual environment where ten participants, acting as avatars, could forage and fight for electronic food items (convertible to cash). In the patchy condition, we observed an ownership convention—the avatar who arrives first is more likely to win—but in the uniform condition, where severe fighting is rare, the ownership convention is absent.
    Date: 2010–03

This nep-neu issue is ©2010 by Daniel Houser. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.