nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2015‒08‒30
three papers chosen by

  1. How Does Education Improve Cognitive Skills? - Instrumental Time versus Timing of Instruction By Sarah Dahmann
  2. Disentangling two causes of biased probability judgment: Cognitive skills and perception of randomness By Duttle, Kai
  3. Cognitive Skills, Non-Cognitive Skills, and Family Background: Evidence from Sibling Correlations By Anger, Silke; Schnitzlein, Daniel D.

  1. By: Sarah Dahmann (German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin))
    Abstract: This paper investigates two mechanisms through which education may affect cognitive skills in adolescence: the role of instructional quantity and the timing of instruction with respect to age. To identify causal effects, I exploit a school reform carried out at the state level in Germany as a quasi-natural experiment: between 2001 and 2007, the academictrack high school (Gymnasium) was reduced by one year in most of Germany's federal states, leaving the overall curriculum unchanged. To investigate the impact of this educational change on students' cognitive abilities, I conduct two separate analyses: first, I exploit the variation in the curriculum taught to same-aged students at academictrack high school over time and across states to identify the effect of the increase in class hours on students' crystallized and fluid intelligence scores. Using rich data on seventeen year-old adolescents from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study, the estimates show that fluid intelligence remained unaffected, while crystallized intelligence improved for male students. Second, I compare students' competences in their final year of high school using data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). The results suggest that students affected by the reform catch up with their non-affected counterparts in terms of their competences by the time of graduation. However, they do not provide any evidence for the timing of instruction to matter in cognitive skill formation. Overall, secondary education therefore seems to impact students' cognitive skills in adolescence especially through instructional time and not so much through agedistinct timing of instruction.
    Keywords: Cognitive Skills, Crystallized Intelligence, Fluid Intelligence, Skill Formation, Education, High School Reform
    JEL: I21 I28 J24
    Date: 2015–04
  2. By: Duttle, Kai
    Abstract: This experimental study investigates the interaction of two influential factors of biased probability judgments. Results provide new insights on the preconditions for an application of either the gambler's fallacy or its exact opponent, the hot hand fallacy. The first factor is cognitive ability, measured in a cognitive reflection test. The second one is the level of perceived randomness in the observed outcomes. Probability judgments are found to vary significantly across salience of randomness treatments as well as across subgroups with high or low cognitive abilities. Like in previous research, subjects with higher cognitive skills are more likely to engage the gambler's fallacy, yet only if perception of sequential randomness is low. In a setting where randomness is very salient the exact opposite can be observed. Similarly surprising insights are revealed when controlling for cognitive abilities in the analysis of salience treatments. Past results are only confirmed for a subgroup with lower cognitive skills, while their peers' beliefs are completely opposite.
    Abstract: Diese experimentelle Studie untersucht die Interaktion zweier Einflussfaktoren auf fehlerhafte Wahrscheinlichkeitsschätzungen. Die Ergebnisse geben Einblick in die Voraussetzungen für eine Verhaltensanwendung der sogenannten Gambler's Fallacy einerseits, oder aber dem genauen Gegenstück, der Hot Hand Fallacy. Der erste Faktor ist die kognitive Fähigkeit, welche in einem Cognitive Reflection Test gemessen wird. Der zweite ist das Ausmaß der wahrgenommenen Zufälligkeit in den beobachteten Ausgängen. Wahrscheinlichkeitsschätzungen variieren signifikant sowohl über die Zufallswahrnehmungs-Treatments als auch über Gruppen mit guten respektive schlechteren kognitiven Fähigkeiten. Wie in früheren Studien wenden Teilnehmer mit hohen kognitiven Fähigkeiten eher die Gambler's Fallacy an, jedoch ausschließlich bei geringer Wahrnehmung sequentieller Zufälligkeit. Ist diese jedoch sehr offensichtlich, kann das genau gegenteilige Verhalten beobachtet werden. Ähnlich überraschende Ergebnisse bringt eine Analyse der Auswirkungen von Variationen in der Zufallswahrnehmung bei gleichzeitiger Kontrolle des Einflusses kognitiver Fähigkeiten. Ergebnisse bisheriger Forschung können lediglich für eine Gruppe mit schlechteren Fähigkeiten repliziert werden. Die Schätzungen der Teilnehmer mit besseren Fähigkeiten sind komplett gegensätzlich.
    Keywords: law of small numbers,gambler's fallacy,hot hand effect,cognitive reflection test
    JEL: C91 D84 J24
    Date: 2015
  3. By: Anger, Silke; Schnitzlein, Daniel D.
    Abstract: This paper estimates sibling correlations in cognitive and non-cognitive skills to evaluate the importance of family background for skill formation. Based on a large representative German dataset including IQ test scores and measures of non-cognitive skills, a restricted maximum likelihood model indicates substantial influences of family background on skill formation. Sibling correlations in non-cognitive skills range from 0.223 to 0.464; therefore, at least one-fifth of the variance in these skills results from sibling-related factors. Sibling correlations in cognitive skills are higher than 0.50; therefore, more than half of the inequality in cognition can be explained by family background. Comparing these findings with those in the intergenerational skill transmission literature suggests that intergenerational correlations capture only part of the influence of family on children's cognitive and non-cognitive skills, as confirmed by decomposition analyses and in line with previous findings on educational and income mobility.
    Keywords: Sibling correlations, family background, non-cognitive skills, cognitive skills, intergenerational mobility
    JEL: J24 J62
    Date: 2015–07

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