nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2019‒12‒09
five papers chosen by

  1. "O Youth and Beauty:" Children's Looks and Children's Cognitive Development By Hamermesh, Daniel S.; Gordon, Rachel A.; Crosnoe, Robert
  2. Perceived wealth, cognitive sophistication and behavioral inattention By Assenza, Tiziana; Cardaci, Alberto; Delli Gatti, Dominico
  3. Selection into Experiments: Evidence from a Population of Students By Schulz, Jonathan F.; Sunde, Uwe; Thiemann, Petra; Thöni, Christian
  4. Incorporating Conditional Morality into Economic Decisions By David Masclet; David L. Dickinson
  5. Estimating Social Preferences and Kantian Morality in Strategic Interactions By Alger, Ingela; Van Leeuwen, Boris; Weibull, Jörgen W.

  1. By: Hamermesh, Daniel S. (Barnard College); Gordon, Rachel A. (University of Illinois at Chicago); Crosnoe, Robert (University of Texas at Austin)
    Abstract: We use data from the 11 waves of the U.S. Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development 1991-2005, following children from ages 6 months through 15 years. Observers rated videos of them, obtaining measures of looks at each age. Given their family income, parents' education, race/ethnicity and gender, being better-looking raised subsequent changes in measurements of objective learning outcomes. The gains imply a long-run impact on cognitive achievement of about 0.04 standard deviations per standard deviation of differences in looks. Similar estimates on changes in reading and arithmetic scores at ages 7, 11 and 16 in the U.K. National Child Development Survey 1958 cohort show larger effects. The extra gains persist when instrumenting children's looks by their mother's, and do not work through teachers' differential treatment of better-looking children, any relation between looks and a child's behavior, his/her victimization by bullies or self-confidence. Results from both data sets show that a substantial part of the economic returns to beauty result indirectly from its effects on educational attainment. A person whose looks are one standard deviation above average attains 0.4 years more schooling than an otherwise identical average-looking individual.
    Keywords: beauty, learning, education
    JEL: J71 I26 I24
    Date: 2019–10
  2. By: Assenza, Tiziana; Cardaci, Alberto; Delli Gatti, Dominico
    Abstract: By means of a laboratory experiment, we show that, contrary to standard consumer theory, financially equivalent balance sheet profiles may be perceived as non fungible in a controlled frictionless environment with no probabilistic attributes. A large majority of subjects indeed have a bias in the perception of wealth, such that balance sheet composition matters: for a given net worth with values of assets and debt that are financially certain and risk-free, a greater asset-debt ratio implies greater perceived wealth. The predominance of this bias is explained by low cognitive sophistication and great inattention. Moreover, biased subjects are less patient, less debt averse, more likely to increase spending out of unexpected gains and report greater propensities to consume. A standard optimal consumption choice model, enriched with a rational but inattentive agent à la Gabaix (2014, 2019), aligns our key experimental findings.
    Keywords: perceived wealth; cognitive sophistication; behavioral inattention; laboratory; experiment; household debt; consumption
    JEL: C91 D91
    Date: 2019–11
  3. By: Schulz, Jonathan F. (George Mason University); Sunde, Uwe (University of Munich); Thiemann, Petra (Lund University); Thöni, Christian (University of Lausanne)
    Abstract: This study investigates the selection into lab experiments among university students based on data from two cohorts of a university's first-year students. The analysis combines two experiments: a classroom experiment in which we elicited measures for risk, time, social preferences, confidence, and cognitive skills using standard measures from the experimental literature; and a recruitment experiment that varied information provided in a typical e-mail recruitment procedure for lab participants. In the recruitment experiment, students were randomly assigned to four conditions that highlighted altruistic motives or financial incentives. We find significant treatment effects: mentioning financial incentives boosts the participation rate in lab experiments by 50 percent. In terms of selection, we find that more selfish individuals and individuals with higher cognitive reflection scores are more likely to participate in experiments, but we find little evidence for selection along risk preferences, time preferences, and overconfidence. Although the recruitment conditions affect participation rates, they do not alter the composition of the participant sample in terms of behavioral measures and cognitive skills.
    Keywords: classroom experiment, selection, recruitment, preferences, cognitive abilities
    JEL: C93 D64 H41 L3
    Date: 2019–11
  4. By: David Masclet; David L. Dickinson
    Abstract: We present a framework that incorporates both moral motivations and fairness considerations into utility. The main idea is that individuals face a preference trade-off between their material individual interest and their desire to follow moral norms. In our model, we assume that moral motivation is conditional and may be influenced by others’ actions. Specifically, in our framework moral obligation is a combination of two main components: an autonomous component and a social influence component that captures the influence of others. Our framework is able to explain many stylized results in the literature and to improve theories of economic behavior. Key Words: Fairness, Ethical Decision Making, Moral Motivation, Behavioral Economics
    JEL: B3 D6 D9
    Date: 2019
  5. By: Alger, Ingela; Van Leeuwen, Boris; Weibull, Jörgen W.
    Abstract: Recent theoretical work suggests that a form of Kantian morality has evolutionary foundations. To investigate the relative importance of Kantian morality and social preferences, we run laboratory experiments on strategic interaction in social dilemmas. Using a structural model, we estimate social preferences and morality concerns both at the individual level and the aggregate level. We observe considerable heterogeneity in social preferences and Kantian morality. A finite mixture analysis shows that the subject pool is well described as consisting of two types. One exhibits a combination of inequity aversion and Kantian morality, while the other combines spite and Kantian morality.
    JEL: C49 C72 C9 C91 D03 D84
    Date: 2019–11

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