nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2022‒01‒24
three papers chosen by

  1. The Predictive Power of Self-Control for Life Outcomes By Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.; Dahmann, Sarah C.; Kamhöfer, Daniel A.; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah
  2. Cognitive Uncertainty in Intertemporal Choice By Benjamin Enke; Thomas Graeber
  3. Trustors' Disregard for Trustees Deciding Intuitively or Reflectively: Three Experiments on Time Constraints By Antonio M. Espin; Valerio Capraro; Brice Corgnet; Simon Gachter; Roberto Hernan-Gonzalez; Praveen Kujal; Stephen Rassenti

  1. By: Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. (University of Sydney); Dahmann, Sarah C. (University of Melbourne); Kamhöfer, Daniel A. (Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE)); Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
    Abstract: This study investigates the predictive power of self-control for individuals and their children using population representative data. We use the well-established Brief Self-Control Scale to demonstrate that people's trait self-control is highly predictive of their life outcomes. Higher self-control is associated with better health, education, and employment outcomes as well as greater financial and overall well-being. Importantly, self-control often adds explanatory power beyond more frequently studied personality traits and economic preferences. The self-control of children is correlated with that of their parents, while higher parental self-control is also linked to fewer behavioral problems among children. Our results suggest that social interventions targeting self-control may be beneficial.
    Keywords: Brief Self-Control Scale, personality traits, intergenerational transmission
    JEL: D91 D01 J24
    Date: 2021–12
  2. By: Benjamin Enke; Thomas Graeber
    Abstract: This paper studies the relevance of cognitive uncertainty – subjective uncertainty over one's utility-maximizing action – for understanding and predicting intertemporal choice. The main idea is that when people are cognitively noisy, such as when a decision is complex, they implicitly treat different time delays to some degree alike. By experimentally measuring and manipulating cognitive uncertainty, we document three economic implications of this idea. First, cognitive uncertainty explains various core empirical regularities, such as why people often appear very impatient, why per-period impatience is smaller over long than over short horizons, why discounting is often hyperbolic even when the present is not involved, and why choices frequently violate transitivity. Second, impatience is context-dependent: discounting is substantially more hyperbolic when the decision environment is more complex. Third, cognitive uncertainty matters for choice architecture: people who are nervous about making mistakes are twice as likely to follow expert advice to be more patient.
    JEL: D01 D03
    Date: 2021–12
  3. By: Antonio M. Espin (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Granada and Loyola Behavioral Lab, Loyola Andalucía University); Valerio Capraro (Department of Economics, Middlesex University Business School); Brice Corgnet (Emlyon Business School); Simon Gachter (University of Nottingham and IZA and CESifo); Roberto Hernan-Gonzalez (Burgundy School of Business, Universite Bourgogne Franche-Comte); Praveen Kujal (Department of Economics, Middlesex University); Stephen Rassenti (Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)
    Abstract: Previous studies have shown that women tend to be more egalitarian and less self-interested than men whereas men tend to be more concerned with social efficiency motives. The roots of such differences, however, remain unknown. Since different cognitive styles have also been associated with different distributional social preferences, we hypothesise that gender differences in social preferences can be partially explained by differences in cognitive styles (i.e., women rely more on intuition whereas men are more reflective). We test this hypothesis meta-analytically using data from seven studies conducted in four countries (USA, Spain, India, and UK; n=6,910) where cognitive reflection and social preferences were measured for men and women. In line with our hypothesis, differences in cognitive reflection scores explain up to 41% of the gender differences in social preferences. The mediation is barely affected by variables such as cognitive ability or study-level characteristics. These results suggest that the socio-ecological or cultural pressures that influence gender differences in cognitive styles are also partially responsible for gender differences in social preferences.
    Keywords: gender differences; cognitive reflection; social preferences; self-interest; social efficiency; egalitarianism
    JEL: B55 C91 C93 D31 D63 J16 Z13
    Date: 2021

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.