nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2015‒03‒05
five papers chosen by

  1. The effect of perceived regional accents on individual economic behavior: A lab experiment on linguistic performance, cognitive ratings and economic decisions By Heblich, Stephan; Lameli, Alfred; Riener, Gerhard
  2. The cognitive basis of social behavior: cognitive reflection overrides antisocial but not always prosocial motives By Brice Corgnet; Antonio M. Espín; Roberto Hernán-González
  3. Pressed for Time? Goal Conflict Shapes How Time Is Perceived, Spent, and Valued By Etkin, Jordan; Evangelidis, Ioannis; Aaker, Jennifer
  4. Collective Self Control By Lizzeri, Alessandro; Yariv, Leeat
  5. Good Things Come to Those Who (Are Taught How to) Wait: Results from a Randomized Educational Intervention on Time Preference By Sule Alan; Seda Ertac

  1. By: Heblich, Stephan; Lameli, Alfred; Riener, Gerhard
    Abstract: Does it matter if you speak with a regional accent? Speaking immediately reveals something of one's own social and cultural identity, be it consciously or unconsciously. Perceiving accents involves not only reconstructing such imprints but also augmenting them with particular attitudes and stereotypes. Even though we know much about attitudes and stereotypes that are transmitted by, e.g. skin color, names or physical attractiveness, we do not yet have satisfactory answers how accent perception affects human behavior. How do people act in economically relevant contexts when they are confronted with regional accents? This paper reports a laboratory experiment where we address this question. Participants in our experiment conduct cognitive tests where they can choose to either cooperate or compete with a randomly matched male opponent identified only via his rendering of a standardized text in either a regional accent or standard accent. We find a strong connection between the linguistic performance and the cognitive rating of the opponent. When matched with an opponent who speaks the accent of the participant's home region - the in-group opponent - individuals tend to cooperate significantly more often. By contrast, they are more likely to compete when matched with an accent speaker from outside their home region, the out-group opponent. Our findings demonstrate, firstly, that the perception of an out-group accent leads not only to social discrimination but also influences economic decisions. Secondly, they suggest that this economic behavior is not necessarily attributable to the perception of a regional accent per se, but rather to the social rating of linguistic distance and the in-group/out-group perception it evokes.
    Date: 2015
  2. By: Brice Corgnet (Economic Science Institute, Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University); Antonio M. Espín (Economics Department, Middlesex University Business School and Granada Lab of Behavioral Economics (GLoBE), Universidad de Granada); Roberto Hernán-González (Granada Lab of Behavioral Economics (GLoBE), Universidad de Granada and Business School, University of Nottingham)
    Abstract: Even though human social behavior has received considerable scientific attention in the last decades, its cognitive underpinnings are still poorly understood. Applying a dual-process framework to the study of social preferences, we show in two studies that individuals with a more reflective/deliberative cognitive style, as measured by scores on the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), are more likely to make choices consistent with “mild” altruism in simple non-strategic decisions. Such choices increase social welfare by increasing the other person’s payoff at very low or no cost for the individual. The choices of less reflective individuals (i.e. those who rely more heavily on intuition), on the other hand, are more likely to be associated with either egalitarian or spiteful motives. We also identify a negative link between reflection and choices characterized by “strong” altruism, but this result holds only in Study 2. Moreover, we provide evidence that the relationship between social preferences and CRT scores is not driven by general intelligence. We discuss how our results can reconcile some previous conflicting findings on the cognitive basis of social behavior.
    Keywords: dual-process; reflection; intuition; social preferences; altruism; spitefulness; prosocial behavior;antisocial behavior; inequality aversion
    JEL: C91 D03 D87
    Date: 2015
  3. By: Etkin, Jordan (Duke University); Evangelidis, Ioannis (Erasmus University Rotterdam); Aaker, Jennifer (Knight Management Center, Stanford University)
    Abstract: Consumers often feel pressed for time, but why? This research provides a novel answer to this question: subjective perceptions of goal conflict. We show that beyond the number of goals competing for their time, perceived conflict between goals makes consumers feel that they have less time. Five experiments demonstrate that perceiving greater conflict between goals makes people feel time constrained, driven by increased stress and anxiety. These effects, which generalize across a variety of goals and types of conflict both related and unrelated to demands on time, impact how consumers spend time as well as how much they are willing to pay to save time. We identify two simple interventions that can help consumers mitigate goal conflict's negative effects: slow breathing and anxiety reappraisal. Together our findings shed light on what drives how consumers see, spend, and value their time.
    Date: 2014–10
  4. By: Lizzeri, Alessandro; Yariv, Leeat
    Abstract: Behavioral economics presents a "paternalistic" rationale for a benevolent government's intervention. We consider an economy where the only “distortion” is agents’ time inconsistency. We study the desirability of various forms of collective action, ones pertaining to costly commitment and ones pertaining to the timing of consumption, when government decisions respond to voters’ preferences via the political process. If only commitment decisions are centralized, commitment investment is more moderate than if all decisions are centralized. Commitment investment is minimal when only consumption is centralized. First-period welfare is highest under either full centralization or laissez faire, depending on the populations’ time-inconsistency distribution.
    Keywords: behavioral political economy; hyperbolic discounting; time inconsistency
    JEL: D04 D70 H1
    Date: 2015–03
  5. By: Sule Alan (University of Essex); Seda Ertac (Koc University)
    Abstract: We report results from the impact evaluation of a randomized educational intervention targeted at elementary school children. The program uses case studies, stories and classroom activities to improve the ability to imagine future selves, and emphasizes forward-looking behavior. We find that treated students make more patient intertemporal choices in incentivized experimental tasks. The effect is stronger for students who are identified as present-biased in the baseline. Furthermore, using official administrative records, we find that treated children are significantly less likely to receive a low "behavioral grade". These results are persistent one year after the intervention, replicate well in a different sample, and are robust across different experimental elicitation methods.
    Keywords: intertemporal choice, randomized field experiments, non-cognitive skills
    JEL: C93 D91 I28
    Date: 2015–02

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.