New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2010‒08‒06
four papers chosen by

  1. The Role of Awakening Cortisol and Psychological Distress in Diurnal Variations in Affect: A Day Reconstruction Study By Michael Daly; Liam Delaney; Peter P. Doran; Malcolm MacLachlan
  2. Do Non-Cognitive Skills Help Explain the Occupational Segregation of Young People? By Antecol, Heather; Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.
  4. Personality, Well-being and Heterogeneous Valuations of Income and Work By Stefanie Schurer; Jongsay Yong

  1. By: Michael Daly (School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin); Liam Delaney (UCD Geary Institute; School of Economics, University College Dublin; School of Public Health and Population Science, University College Dublin); Peter P. Doran (UCD Clinical Research Centre); Malcolm MacLachlan (School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin; Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin)
    Abstract: People often feel unhappy in the morning but better later in the day, and this pattern may be amplified in the distressed. Past work suggests that one function of cortisol is to energize people in the mornings. In a study of 174 students we tested to see if daily affect patterns, psychological distress, and awakening cortisol levels were interlinked. Affect levels were assessed using the Day Reconstruction Method (Kahneman, Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz, & Stone, 2004) and psychological distress was measured using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (Antony, Bieling, Cox, Enns, & Swinson, 1998). On average positive affect increased markedly in a linear pattern across the day whilst negative affect decreased linearly. For the highly distressed this pattern was stronger for positive affect. Lower than average morning cortisol, as assessed by two saliva samples at waking and two samples 30 minutes after waking, predicted a clear increasing pattern of positive affect throughout the day. When we examined the interlinkages between affect patterns, distress, and cortisol our results showed that a pronounced linear increase in positive affect from morning through to evening occurred chiefly among distressed people with below average cortisol levels upon awakening. Psychological distress, whilst not strongly associated with morning cortisol levels, does appear to interact with cortisol levels to profoundly influence affect.
    Keywords: Cortisol, Psychological Distress, Positive Affect, Diurnal Variation, Day Reconstruction Method
    Date: 2010–07–22
  2. By: Antecol, Heather (Claremont McKenna College); Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. (University of Melbourne)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the role of non-cognitive skills in the occupational segregation of young workers entering the U.S. labor market. We find entry into male-dominated fields of study and male-dominated occupations are both related to the extent to which individuals believe they are intelligent and have "male" traits while entry into male-dominated occupations is also related to the willingness to work hard, impulsivity, and the tendency to avoid problems. The nature of these relationships differs for men and women, however. Non-cognitive skills (intelligence and impulsivity) also influence movement into higher-paid occupations, but in ways that are similar for men and women. On balance, non-cognitive skills provide an important, though incomplete, explanation for segregation in the fields that young men and women study as well as in the occupations in which they are employed.
    Keywords: non-cognitive skills, occupation, youth, gender
    JEL: J24 J16 J31
    Date: 2010–07
  3. By: Vincenzo Carrieri (Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica, Università della Calabria)
    Abstract: The importance of social comparison in shaping individual utility has been widely documented by subjective well-being literature. So far, income has been the main dimension considered in social comparison. This paper aims to investigate whether subjective well-being is influenced by inter-personal comparison with respect to health. Thus, we study the effects of the health of others and relative health hypothesis on two measures of subjective well-being: happiness and subjective health. Using data from the Italian Health Conditions survey, we show that a high incidence of chronic conditions and disability among reference groups negatively affects both happiness and subjective health. Such effects are stronger among people in the same conditions. These results, robust to different econometric specifications and estimation techniques, suggest the presence of some sympathy in individual preferences with respect to health and reveal that other people?s health status serves as a benchmark to assess one?s own health conditions.
    Keywords: health conditions, social comparison, subjective well-being
    JEL: C21 D64 I31
    Date: 2010–07
  4. By: Stefanie Schurer (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne); Jongsay Yong (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)
    Abstract: Using Australian longitudinal data and a random coefficient approach, this paper investigates whether personality traits explain the heterogeneity in these valuations. We find that differences in subjective well-being are driven by Emotional Stability. Women's valuations of income depend on their score of Openness to Experience and men significantly differ in their valuations of work across the spectrum of Emotional Stability and Conscientiousness. Our study directly tests predictions of Self-Determination Theory and contributes to the debate on the assumption of homogeneous agents in economic theory.
    Keywords: random coefficient model, personality traits, heterogeneity, subjective wellbeing, income and work, preferences
    JEL: I31 D00 C23
    Date: 2010–07

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