nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2017‒06‒18
three papers chosen by

  1. Facing Yourself: A Note on Self-image By Armin Falk
  2. Nudging in education: A survey By Mette Trier Damgaard; Helena Skyt Nielsen
  3. Kinship Systems, Cooperation and the Evolution of Culture By Benjamin Enke

  1. By: Armin Falk (briq)
    Abstract: Numerous signaling models in economics assume image concerns. These take two forms, as relating either to social image or self-image. While empirical work has identified the behavioral importance of the former, less is known about the role of enhanced self-image concerns. In this paper, we exogenously vary self-image concerns in manipulating self-directed attention and study the impact on moral behavior. The choice context in the experiment is whether subjects inflict a painful electric shock on another subject to receive a monetary payment. Three between-subjects conditions are studied. In the main treatment, subjects see their own face on the decision screen in a real-time video feed. In the two control conditions, subjects see either no video at all or a neutral video. We find that the exogenous increase in self-image concerns significantly reduces the fraction of subjects inflicting pain. The finding suggests the importance of self-awareness for moral decision making with implications for theory as well as practical applications to promote socially desirable outcomes.
    Keywords: self-image, moral behavior
    JEL: D64 C91
    Date: 2017–06
  2. By: Mette Trier Damgaard (Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Denmark); Helena Skyt Nielsen (Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Denmark)
    Abstract: Can we nudge children, youths and their parents to make better educational decisions? Educational decisions involve immediate costs and potential future benefits. Research suggests that in such settings behavioural barriers (such as lack of self-control, limited attention and social norms) are likely to influence choices. This raises the question whether low cost ”nudges” can improve people’s educational choices. While interventions targeting cognitive or attentional limitations seem to be effective, it is too soon to provide a roadmap for introducing nudges in the education sector.
    Keywords: Behavioural bias, boost policies, education choice, human capital investment
    JEL: D03 D04 I20
    Date: 2017–06–08
  3. By: Benjamin Enke
    Abstract: Cultural psychologists and anthropologists argue that societies have developed heterogeneous systems of social organization to cope with social dilemmas, and that an entire bundle of cultural characteristics has coevolved to enforce cooperation within these different systems. This paper develops a measure of the historical tightness of kinship structures to provide empirical evidence for this large body of theories. In the data, societies with loose ancestral kinship ties cooperate and trust broadly, which is apparently sustained through a belief in moralizing gods, universally applicable moral principles, feelings of guilt, and large-scale institutions. Societies with a historically tightly knit kinship structure, on the other hand, exhibit strong in-group favoritism: they cheat on and are distrusting of out-group members, but readily support in-group members in need. This cooperation scheme is enforced by moral values of in-group loyalty, conformity to tight social norms, emotions of shame, and strong local institutions. These relationships hold across historical ethnicities, contemporary countries, ethnicities within countries, and migrants. The results suggest that religious beliefs, language, emotions, morality, and social norms all coevolved to support specific social cooperation systems.
    JEL: D0 O0
    Date: 2017–06

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