nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2020‒06‒08
five papers chosen by

  1. Investigating the Genetic Architecture of Non-Cognitive Skills Using GWAS-By-Subtraction By Demange, Perline A.; Malanchini, Margherita; Mallard, Travis T.; Biroli, Pietro
  2. Sleep Restriction Increases Coordination Failure By Castillo, Marco; Dickinson, David L.
  3. Drinking is Different! Examining the Role of Locus of Control for Alcohol Consumption By Marco Caliendo; Juliane Hennecke
  4. Discriminating Behavior: Evidence from teachers’ grading bias By Ferman, Bruno; Fontes, Luiz Felipe
  5. Torn between want and should: Self regulation and behavioral choices By Abhinash Borah; Raghvi Garg

  1. By: Demange, Perline A. (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam); Malanchini, Margherita (Queen Mary, University of London); Mallard, Travis T. (University of Texas at Austin); Biroli, Pietro (University of Zurich)
    Abstract: Educational attainment (EA) is influenced by characteristics other than cognitive ability, but little is known about the genetic architecture of these "non-cognitive" contributions to EA. Here, we use Genomic Structural Equation Modelling and prior genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of EA (N = 1,131,881) and cognitive test performance (N = 257,841) to estimate SNP associations with EA variation that is independent of cognitive ability. We identified 157 genome-wide significant loci and a polygenic architecture accounting for 57% of genetic variance in EA. Non-cognitive genetics were as strongly related to socioeconomic success and longevity as genetic variants associated with cognitive performance. Noncognitive genetics were further related to openness to experience and other personality traits, less risky behavior, and increased risk for psychiatric disorders. Non-cognitive genetics were enriched in the same brain tissues and cell types as cognitive performance, but showed different associations with gray-matter brain volumes. By conducting a GWAS of a phenotype that was not directly measured, we offer a first view of genetic architecture of non-cognitive skills influencing educational success.
    Keywords: genetics, noncognitive skills, education
    JEL: J24 I24 E24 I14
    Date: 2020–05
  2. By: Castillo, Marco (Texas A&M University); Dickinson, David L. (Appalachian State University)
    Abstract: When group outcomes depend on minimal effort (e.g., disease containment, work teams, or indigenous hunt success), a classic coordination problem exists. Using a well-established paradigm, we examine how a common cognitive state (insufficient sleep) impacts coordination outcomes. Our data indicate that insufficient sleep increases coordination failure costs, which suggests that the sleep or, more generally, cognitive composition of a group might determine its ability to escape from a trap of costly miscoordination and wasted cooperative efforts. These findings are first evidence of the potentially large externality of a commonly experienced biological state (insufficient sleep) that has infiltrated many societies.
    Keywords: coordination games, sleep, cooperative dilemma
    JEL: C91 D91
    Date: 2020–05
  3. By: Marco Caliendo (University of Potsdam, IZA Bonn, DIW Berlin, IAB Nuremberg); Juliane Hennecke (Auckland University of Technology, IZA Bonn)
    Abstract: Unhealthy behavior can be extremely costly from a micro- and macroeconomic perspective and exploring the determinants of such behavior is highly important from an economist’s point of view. We examine whether locus of control (LOC) can explain alcohol consumption as an important domain of health behavior. LOC measures how much an individual believes that she is in control of the consequences of her own actions for her life’s future outcomes. While earlier literature showed that an increasing internal LOC is associated with increased health-conscious behavior in domains such as smoking, exercise or diets, we find that drinking seems to be different. Using German panel data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) we find a significant positive effect of having an internal LOC on the probability of moderate and regular drinking. We suggest and discuss two likely mechanisms for this relationship and find interesting gender differences. While social investments play an important role for both men and women, risk perceptions are especially relevant for men.
    Keywords: locus of control, alcohol consumption, health behavior, risk perception, social investment
    JEL: I12 D91
    Date: 2020–05
  4. By: Ferman, Bruno; Fontes, Luiz Felipe
    Abstract: Recent evidence has established that non-cognitive skills are key determinants of education and labor outcomes, and are malleable throughout adolescence. However, little is known about the mechanisms producing these results. This paper tests a channel that could explain part of the association between non-cognitive skills and important outcomes: teacher grading discrimination toward student behaviors. Evidence is drawn from a unique data pertaining to students from middle and high-school in Brazilian private schools. Our empirical strategy is based on the contrasting of school-level tests graded by teachers and school-level tests that cover the same content but are graded blindly. Using detailed data on student classroom behaviors and holding constant performance in exams graded blindly, evidence indicates that teachers inflate the grades of better-behaved students while deducting points from worse-behaved ones. These biases are driven by grading discrimination in exams with open questions. Additionally, teachers’ behavior does not appear to be consistent with statistical discrimination.
    Keywords: Grade discrimination; non-cognitive skills
    JEL: I21 I24
    Date: 2020–05–14
  5. By: Abhinash Borah (Ashoka University); Raghvi Garg (Ashoka University)
    Abstract: We model the behavior of a decision maker (DM) who faces an intrapersonal conflict between what she wants to do (her “want-self†) and what she thinks she should do (her “should-self†). In our model, in any choice problem, the DM first eliminates the worst alternative(s) according to the preferences of her should-self, presumably, as a way of managing the guilt that results from making choices she should not. Then, from the remaining alternatives, she chooses the best one according to the preferences of her want-self. Drawing on Freud, we interpret this choice procedure as reflective of the balancing act that preserving one’s ego requires. Indeed, this balance is key to a DM’s ability to exercise self regulation which our model analyzes in the context of behavioral choices. We characterize the model behaviorally and identify the extent to which the key behavioral parameters can be uniquely identified from choice data.
    Keywords: intrapersonal conflict, want and should selves, ego preserving heuristic, self regulation and ego depletion, behavioral choices
    Date: 2020–05

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