New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2013‒04‒06
six papers chosen by

  1. Variants of the Monoamine Oxidase A Gene (MAOA) Predict Free-riding Behavior in Women in a Strategic Public Goods Experiment By Vanessa Mertins; Andrea B. Schote; Jobst Meyer
  2. The Effect of Non-Cognitive Traits on Health Behaviours in Adolescence By Mendolia, Silvia; Walker, Ian
  3. The College Type: Personality and Educational Inequality By Lundberg, Shelly
  4. Can Marginal Rates of Substitution Be Inferred from Happiness Data? Evidence from Residency Choices By Daniel J. Benjamin; Ori Heffetz; Miles S. Kimball; Alex Rees-Jones
  5. Personality Traits and Economic Preparation for Retirement By Michael D. Hurd; Angela Lee Duckworth; Susann Rohwedder; David R. Weir
  6. Assessing Mental Models via Recording the Decision Deliberations of Pairs By Siegfried K. Berninghaus; Werner Güth; Charlotte Klempt; Kerstin Pull

  1. By: Vanessa Mertins (Institute for Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the EU, University of Trier); Andrea B. Schote; Jobst Meyer
    Abstract: Laboratory experiments have documented substantial heterogeneity in social preferences, but little is known about the origins of such behavior. Previous research on public goods experiments suggests that individual-level demographic and psychological variables correlate with player types. However, the key question about biological sources of variation in these preferences remains open. The aim of this study is to uncover genetic variations that influence differences in cooperative behavior. For this reason, we identify types of players within a strategic public goods experiment. We explicitly test for an association between individual variance in strategy choice and the functional promoter-region repeat of the monoamine oxidase A gene (MAOA). Our experimental findings suggest a link between MAOA and the occurrence of free-riding in females. Females with MAOA-L are less likely to behave like weak free-riders than MAOA-H carriers, whereas among males, our results did not support a significant relation between genotype and player type. Furthermore, MAOA-L female carriers contribute more than MAOA-H subjects to the public good if they know that others contribute nothing, and they showed slightly lower scores on the Machiavellianism scale. This is the first piece of evidence that genotype might predict player type within a public goods setting. It contributes to our understanding of biological drivers of economic decision-making and points to the need for further exploration.
    Keywords: gene, player type, public good, conditional cooperation, experimental economics
    JEL: H41 D87 C91 C72
    Date: 2013–02
  2. By: Mendolia, Silvia (University of Wollongong); Walker, Ian (Lancaster University)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the relationship between personality traits in adolescence and health behaviours using a large and recent cohort study. In particular, we investigate the impact of locus of control, self-esteem and conscientiousness at age 15-16, on the incidence of health behaviours such as: alcohol consumption; cannabis and other drug use; unprotected and early sexual activity; and sports and physical activity. We use matching methods to control for a very rich set of adolescent and family characteristics and we find that personality traits do affect health behaviours. In particular, individuals with external locus of control, or with low self-esteem, or with low levels of conscientiousness are more likely to engage in health-risky behaviours.
    Keywords: personality, locus of control, self-esteem, health behaviours
    JEL: I18 I28
    Date: 2013–03
  3. By: Lundberg, Shelly (University of California, Santa Barbara)
    Abstract: I examine the effects of cognitive ability and personality traits on college graduation in a recent cohort of young Americans, and how the returns to these traits vary by family background, and find very substantial differences across family background groups in the personality traits that predict successful completion of college, particularly for men. The implications are two-fold. First, the returns to noncognitive traits may be highly context-dependent. Second, policy discussion concerning educational inequality should include, not just the possibilities for remediating the skill levels of poor children, but also approaches to changing the environments that limit their opportunities.
    Keywords: education, personality, inequality
    JEL: I24
    Date: 2013–03
  4. By: Daniel J. Benjamin; Ori Heffetz; Miles S. Kimball; Alex Rees-Jones
    Abstract: To what extent do marginal rates of substitution estimated from subjective well-being (SWB) data reflect the tradeoffs that individuals would deliberately choose to make? Surveying 561 students from U.S. medical schools shortly after they submit their choice rankings over residencies to the National Resident Matching Program, we elicit both choice rankings and anticipated-SWB rankings over residencies (using three common SWB measures). We find substantial differences between the two rankings in the implied tradeoffs between different features of the residencies. For example, while residency prestige-and-status weighs more in choice, expecting life to seem worthwhile during the residency weighs more in all SWB measures. At the same time, tradeoffs estimated from anticipated SWB are relatively highly correlated with those estimated from choice, and we find no sign reversals between a feature’s relationship with anticipated SWB and its relationship with choice. We also find that evaluative measures (life satisfaction and Cantril’s ladder) imply tradeoffs closer to choice than does affective happiness. We further investigate a multi-period happiness index and a multi-measure SWB index and do not find that they generate tradeoff estimates closer to those generated by choice. Finally, despite the differences in implied tradeoffs, we find that SWB questions predict pairwise choice reasonably well in our data, and often substantially better than alternative questions. We discuss implications of our findings for the use of SWB data in applied work.
    JEL: C81 D03 D69
    Date: 2013–03
  5. By: Michael D. Hurd (RAND); Angela Lee Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania); Susann Rohwedder (RAND); David R. Weir (Survey Research Center, University of Michigan)
    Abstract: This paper assesses the effects of personality traits on economic preparation for retirement, wealth accumulation, and consumption, among persons 66 to 69 years of age. Among the five chief personality traits of neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness, we focus most on conscientiousness. We find levels of adequate economic preparation for retirement ranging from 29 percent to 90 percent and that conscientiousness positively affects the proportion of persons adequately prepared for retirement, while neuroticism negatively affects it. Both consumption and wealth increase with conscientiousness but wealth increases faster, indicating that more conscientious persons save more out of retirement resources.
    Date: 2012–09
  6. By: Siegfried K. Berninghaus (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute for Economic Theory and Statistics); Werner Güth (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group); Charlotte Klempt (Institute for Applied Economic Research); Kerstin Pull (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)
    Abstract: Two participants have to decide jointly, with the discussions preceding their choice being video/audiotaped. For two tasks, one with and one without strategic interaction, we refer to obvious reasoning styles as mental models. The videotaped discussions are analyzed according to which mental models are mentioned by one or both participants in the same pair and how decisive such arguments were. The mental models for the risky choice task are "analytic approach", "commitment mode", and "avoid chance", and for the outside-option game "equality seeking", "backward induction", and "forward induction". We classify each pair according to their mental constellation in both tasks and assess mental models in addition to collecting choice data. Altogether, this allows for better explanations, especially of heterogeneity in reasoning and deciding.
    Keywords: behavioral principles, videotaped experiments, outside option games
    JEL: C72 C90 D03 G11
    Date: 2013–03–21

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