nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2015‒01‒19
five papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. Sleepiness, Choice Consistency, and Risk Preferences By Castillo, Marco; Dickinson, David L.; Petrie, Ragan
  2. Pour Some Sugar in Me: Does Glucose Enrichment Improve Decision Making? By McElroy, Todd; Dickinson, David L.; Stroh, Nathan
  3. Fostering and Measuring Skills: Improving Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success By Kautz, Tim; Heckman, James J.; Diris, Ron; ter Weel, Bas; Borghans, Lex
  4. Do NEETs Need Grit? By Mendolia, Silvia; Walker, Ian
  5. Imitation under stress By Buckert, Magdalena; Oechssler, Jörg; Schwieren, Christiane

  1. By: Castillo, Marco (George Mason University); Dickinson, David L. (Appalachian State University); Petrie, Ragan (George Mason University)
    Abstract: We investigate the consistency and stability of individual risk preferences by manipulating cognitive resources. Participants are randomly assigned to an experiment session at a preferred time of day relative to their diurnal preference (circadian matched) or at a non-preferred time (circadian mismatched) and choose allocations between two risky assets (using the Choi et al., 2007, design). Consistency of behavior of circadian matched and mismatched subjects is statistically the same, however mismatched subjects tend to take more risks. We conclude that, consistent with several theories, preferences are rational yet can change depending on state-level cognitive resources.
    Keywords: sleep, risky preference, choice consistency
    JEL: C91 D81
    Date: 2014–12
  2. By: McElroy, Todd (Florida Gulf Coast University); Dickinson, David L. (Appalachian State University); Stroh, Nathan (Appalachian State University)
    Abstract: In the current study we explore whether enriching the brain's supply of glucose will improve the quality and speed of decision making. Prior research shows that glucose enrichment supports cognition and more recent research has shown it can improve decision making on some tasks. To test our hypothesis we used a standardized decision inventory and measured response times. The findings show that supplemental glucose improves decision making but only in complex decision tasks. The findings also show that enrichment leads to faster decision response times across decision types.
    Keywords: glucose, response time, A-DMC, thinking, experiments
    JEL: C91
    Date: 2014–12
  3. By: Kautz, Tim (University of Chicago); Heckman, James J. (University of Chicago); Diris, Ron (K.U.Leuven); ter Weel, Bas (CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis); Borghans, Lex (Maastricht University)
    Abstract: This paper reviews the recent literature on measuring and boosting cognitive and non-cognitive skills. The literature establishes that achievement tests do not adequately capture character skills: personality traits, goals, motivations, and preferences that are valued in the labor market, in school, and in many other domains. Their predictive power rivals that of cognitive skills. Reliable measures of character have been developed. All measures of character and cognition are measures of performance on some task. In order to reliably estimate skills from tasks, it is necessary to standardize for incentives, effort, and other skills when measuring any particular skill. Character is a skill, not a trait. At any age, character skills are stable across different tasks, but skills can change over the life cycle. Character is shaped by families, schools, and social environments. Skill development is a dynamic process, in which the early years lay the foundation for successful investment in later years. High-quality early childhood and elementary school programs improve character skills in a lasting and cost-effective way. Many of them beneficially affect later-life outcomes without improving cognition. There are fewer long-term evaluations of adolescent interventions, but workplace-based programs that teach character skills are promising. The common feature of successful interventions across all stages of the life cycle through adulthood is that they promote attachment and provide a secure base for exploration and learning for the child. Successful interventions emulate the mentoring environments offered by successful families.
    Keywords: non-cognitive skills, human development, interventions
    JEL: D01 I20 J24
    Date: 2014–12
  4. By: Mendolia, Silvia (University of Wollongong); Walker, Ian (Lancaster University)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the relationship between personality traits in adolescence and education and labour market choices. In particular, we investigate the impact of grit (a tendency and ability to sustain interest in long term goals - perseverance) on the risk of youths being NEET – "Not in Education, Employment or Training". Thus, our focus is on early drop-out from the labour market and education at age 18-20. Individuals with high levels of grit are less likely to be out of education or employment, while low self-esteem and external locus of control increase the chances of experiencing these conditions. We use propensity score matching to control for a rich set of adolescent and family characteristics and our results show that personality traits do affect education and employment choices. We test the robustness of our results using the methodology proposed by Altonji et al. (2005) that consists of making hypotheses about the correlation between the unobservables and observables that determine the outcomes and the unobservables that influence personality.
    Keywords: personality, NEET, grit, locus of control, self-esteem
    JEL: I10 I21
    Date: 2014–12
  5. By: Buckert, Magdalena; Oechssler, Jörg; Schwieren, Christiane
    Abstract: Imitating the best strategy from the previous period has been shown to be an important heuristic, in particular in relatively complex environments. In this experiment we test whether subjects are more likely to use imitation if they are under stress. Subjects play a repeated Cournot oligopoly. Treatments are time pressure within the task and distractions through a second task (a Stroop-task) that has to be performed as well and influences payment. We measure stress levels through salivary cortisol and heart rate. Our main findings are that time pressure and distraction can indeed raise physiological stress levels of subjects within our task. More importantly from an economic perspective, we can also observe a corresponding behavioral change that is indicative of imitation.
    Keywords: stress,cortisol,heart rate,imitation,experiment
    JEL: C91 C72 D74
    Date: 2014

This nep-neu issue is ©2015 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.