nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2013‒12‒29
nine papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. fMRI correlates of the word frequency Effect in Russian By Roza Vlasova; Ekaterina Pechenkova; Valentin Sinitsyn
  2. Food for Thought? Breastfeeding and Child Development By Emla Fitzsimons; Marcos Vera-Hernandez
  3. Locus of Control and Savings By Deborah A. Cobb-Clark; Sonja C. Kassenboehmer; Mathias G. Sinning
  4. Cognitive Development and Infectious Disease: Gender Differences in Investments and Outcomes By Bhalotra, Sonia R.; Venkataramani, Atheendar
  5. Risk aversion relates to cognitive ability: Fact or Fiction? By Ola Andersson; Håkan J. Holm; Jean-Robert Tyran; Erik Wengström
  6. Two Studies on the Interplay between Social Preferences and Individual Biological Features By S., Sanchez Pages; E., Tureigano
  7. Who is the fairest of them all? The independent effect of attractive features and self-perceived attractiveness on cooperation among women By Munoz-Reyes, J. A.; Pita, M.; Arjona, M.; Sanchez-Pages, S.; Turiegano, E.
  8. American and Russian “victory” discourse: a conflict of cultures By Anna D. Plisetskaya
  9. Bargaining over a common conceptual space By Marco LiCalzi; Nadia Maagli

  1. By: Roza Vlasova (Higher School of Economics, Faculty of Philology, Laboratory of Neurolinguistics); Ekaterina Pechenkova (Institute of Practical Psychology and Psychoanalysis); Valentin Sinitsyn (Federal Center of Medicine and Rehabilitation)
    Abstract: The results of the previous fMRI study of the word frequency effect in Russian (Malutina et al., 2012) contradict the results obtained from fMRI studies of English speakers. Two reasons for such inconsistency may be either task specificity (tasks involving verbs vs. tasks involving nouns) or cross-linguistic differences. This study examines fMRI correlates of word frequency in Russian using an object naming task. We found that several brain regions were more activated by the retrieval of low frequency rather than high frequency words: the fusiform gyrus, the inferior occipital gyrus, the middle occipital gyrus, the supplementary motor area, the inferior frontal gyrus bilaterally, the left thalamus, the left insula, and the right cingulate gyrus. At the same time we revealed no brain areas responding more to high frequency words. These results are consistent with the previous fMRI studies in English and also indicate the possible role of task specificity as well as possible interactions of task and word frequency in brain mechanisms for word retrieval
    Keywords: word frequency effect, object naming, fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), Russian language
    JEL: Z19
    Date: 2013
  2. By: Emla Fitzsimons (Institute for Fiscal Studies); Marcos Vera-Hernandez (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)
    Abstract: We show that children who are born at the weekend or just before are less likely to be breastfed, owing to poorer breastfeeding support services at weekends. We use this variation to estimate the effect of breastfeeding on children's development for a sample of uncomplicated births from low educated mothers. We find that breastfeeding has large effects on children's cognitive development, but not on non-cognitive development or health. Regarding mechanisms, we estimate how breastfeeding affects parental investments in the child and the quality of the mother-child relationship.
    Date: 2013–12
  3. By: Deborah A. Cobb-Clark; Sonja C. Kassenboehmer; Mathias G. Sinning
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the relationship between individuals’ locus of control and their savings behavior, i.e. wealth accumulation, savings rates, and portfolio choices. Locus of control is a psychological concept that captures individuals’ beliefs about the controllability of life events and is a key component of self-control. We find that households with an internal reference person save more both in terms of levels and as a percentage of their permanent incomes. Although the locus-of-control gap in savings rates is largest among rich households, the gap in wealth accumulation is particularly large for poor households. Finally, households with an internal reference person and average net worth hold significantly less financial wealth, but significantly more pension wealth, than otherwise similar households with an external reference person.
    Keywords: Non-cognitive skills; locus of control; wealth accumulation; asset portfolios; savings
    JEL: G02 G11 I31 R21
    Date: 2013–12
  4. By: Bhalotra, Sonia R. (University of Essex); Venkataramani, Atheendar (Massachusetts General Hospital)
    Abstract: We exploit exogenous variation in the risk of waterborne disease created by implementation of a major water reform in Mexico in 1991 to investigate impacts of infant exposure on indicators of cognitive development and academic achievement in late childhood. We estimate that a one standard deviation reduction in childhood diarrhea mortality rates results in about a 0.1 standard deviation increase in test scores, but only for girls. We show that a reason for the gender differentiated impacts is that the water reform induces parents to make complementary investments in education that favor girls, consistent with their comparative advantage in skilled occupations. The results provide novel evidence of the potential for clean water provision to narrow test score gaps across countries and, within countries, across gender.
    Keywords: water, diarrhea, cognitive development, test scores, early life health interventions, brain-brawn, gender, Mexico, dynamic complementarity
    JEL: I38 J16 I12 I14 I15 I24 I25 H51
    Date: 2013–12
  5. By: Ola Andersson (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)); Håkan J. Holm (Lund University - Department of Economics); Jean-Robert Tyran (Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), University of Vienna, Department of Economics, Copenhagen University); Erik Wengström (Department of Economics, Copenhagen University)
    Abstract: Recent experimental studies suggest that risk aversion is negatively related to cognitive ability. In this paper we report evidence that this relation might be spurious. We recruit a large subject pool drawn from the general Danish population for our experiment. By presenting subjects with choice tasks that vary the bias induced by random choices, we are able to generate both negative and positive correlations between risk aversion and cognitive ability. Structural estimation allowing for heterogeneity of noise yields no significant relation between risk aversion and cognitive ability. Our results suggest that cognitive ability is related to random decision making rather than to risk preferences.
    Keywords: risk preference, cognitive ability, experiment, noise
    JEL: C81 C91 D12 D81
    Date: 2013–09–04
  6. By: S., Sanchez Pages; E., Tureigano
    Abstract: Biological features and social preferences have been studied separately as factors influencing human strategic behaviour. We run two studies in order to explore the interplay between these two sets of factors. In the first study, we investigate to what extent social preferences may have some biological underpinnings. We use simple one-shot distribution experiments to attribute subjects one out of four types of social preferences: Self-interested (SI), Competitive (C), Inequality averse (IA) and Efficiency-seeking (ES). We then investigate whether these four groups display differences in their levels of facial Fluctuating Asymmetry (FA) and in proxies for exposure to testosterone during phoetal development and puberty. We observe that development-related biological features and social preferences are relatively independent. In the second study, we compare the relative weight of these two set of factors by studying how they affect subjects’ behaviour in the Ultimatum Game (UG). We find differences in offers made and rejection rates across the four social preference groups. The effect of social preferences is stronger than the effect of biological features even though the latter is significant. We also report a novel link between facial masculinity (a proxy for exposure to testosterone during puberty) and rejection rates in the UG. Our results suggest that biological features influence behaviour both directly and through their relation with the type of social preferences that individuals hold.
    Keywords: Testosterone, Ultimatum Game, Fluctuating Asymmetry, Facial masculinity, 2D:4D, Social preferences,
    Date: 2013
  7. By: Munoz-Reyes, J. A.; Pita, M.; Arjona, M.; Sanchez-Pages, S.; Turiegano, E.
    Abstract: The present paper analyzes the extent to which attractiveness-related variables affect cooperative behavior in women. Cooperativeness is evaluated through a Prisoner's Dilemma Game (PDG). We consider several morphometric variables related to attractiveness: Fluctuating Asymmetry (FA), Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR, Body Mass Index (BMI) and Facial Femininity (FF). These variables have been shown to predict human behavior. We also include as a control variable a score for Self-Perceived Attractiveness (SPA). We test differences in these variables according to behavior in the PDG. Our results reveal that low FA women cooperate less frequently in the PDG. We also find that women with lower WHR are more cooperative. This result contradicts the expected relation between WHR and behavior in the PDG. We show that this effect of WHR on cooperation operates through its influence on the expectation that participants hold on the cooperative intent of their counterpart. In addition, we show that the effect of attractive features on cooperation occurs independently of the participants' perception of their own appeal. Finally, we discuss our results in the context of the evolution of cooperative behavior and under the hypothesis that attractiveness is a reliable indicator of phenotypic quality.
    Keywords: Cooperation, Attractiveness, Fluctuating asymmetry, Waist-hip ratio, Body 46 Mass Index, Facial Femininity,
    Date: 2013
  8. By: Anna D. Plisetskaya (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: This article focuses on the presidential rhetoric of Russian and American leaders at the end of their latest campaigns, taking their victory speeches given immediately after winning their respective elections as examples. The comparative cross-cultural research presented in this study includes cognitive, corpus, and rhetorical approaches and is carried out within the framework of critical discourse analysis. The interconnection between language, culture and politics is evident through metaphors used by national leaders. The metaphor THE RUSSIAN NATION IS AT WAR reconstructed in President Putin’s victory speech is quite different from the metaphor THE AMERICAN NATION IS ONE FAMILY found in President Obama’s victory speech. Archetypal metaphors found in both speeches reflect public values that turn out to be highly contrastive and explain some cultural and political differences between the great powers.
    Keywords: rhetorical strategies, archetypal metaphor, metaphorical concept, corpus data, public values
    JEL: Z19
    Date: 2013
  9. By: Marco LiCalzi (Dept. of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia); Nadia Maagli (UniversitŽ Paris-1-Pantheon-Sorbonne)
    Abstract: Two agents endowed with different individual conceptual spaces are engaged in a dialectic process to reach a common understanding. We model the process as a simple noncooperative game and demonstrate three results. When the initial disagreement is focused, the bargaining process has a zero-sum structure. When the disagreement is widespread, the zero-sum structure disappears and the unique equilibrium requires a retraction of consensus: two agents who individually agree to associate a region with the same concept end up rebranding it as a different concept. Finally, we document a conversers' dilemma: such equilibrium outcome is Pareto-dominated by a cooperative solution that avoids retraction.
    Keywords: cognitive maps, language differences, semantic bargaining, organisational codes, mental models.
    JEL: C78 D83
    Date: 2013–12

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