nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2022‒03‒28
two papers chosen by

  1. Eye image effect in the context of pedestrian safety: a French questionnaire study By Sueur, Cédric; Piermattéo, Anthony; Pelé, Marie
  2. Narratives, Imperatives, and Moral Persuasion By Roland Bénabou; Armin Falk; Jean Tirole

  1. By: Sueur, Cédric; Piermattéo, Anthony; Pelé, Marie
    Abstract: Introduction: Human behavior is therefore influenced by the presence of others, which scientists also call ‘the audience effect’. The use of social control to produce more cooperative behaviors may positively influence road use and safety. This study uses an online questionnaire to test how eyes images affect the behavior of pedestrians when crossing a road. Material and methods: Different eyes images of men, women and a child with different facial expressions -neutral, friendly and angry- were presented to participants who were asked what they would feel by looking at these images before crossing a signalized road. Participants completed a questionnaire of 20 questions about pedestrian behaviors (PBQ). The questionnaire was received by 1,447 French participants, 610 of whom answered the entire questionnaire. 71% of participants were women, and the mean age was 35±14 years. Results: Eye images give individuals the feeling they are being observed at 33%, feared at 5% and surprised at 26%, and thus seem to indicate mixed results about avoiding crossing at the red light. The expressions shown in the eyes are also an important factor: feelings of being observed increased by about 10-15% whilst feelings of being scared or inhibited increased by about 5% as the expression changed from neutral to friendly to angry. No link was found between the results of our questionnaire and those of the Pedestrian Behavior Questionnaire (PBQ). Conclusion: This study shows that the use of eye images could reduce illegal crossings by pedestrians, and is thus of key interest as a practical road safety tool. However, the effect is limited and how to increase this nudge effect needs further consideration.
    Date: 2021–10–12
  2. By: Roland Bénabou (Princeton University); Armin Falk (University of Bonn); Jean Tirole (University of Toulouse Capitole)
    Abstract: We study the production and circulation of arguments justifying actions on the basis of morality. By downplaying externalities, exculpatory narratives allow people to maintain a positive image while acting selfishly. Conversely, responsibilizing narratives raise both direct and reputational stakes, fostering prosocial behavior. These rationales diffuse along a linear network, through both costly signaling and strategic disclosure. The norms that emerge reflect local correlation in agents’ incentives (reputation versus influence concerns), with low mixing generating both a polarization of beliefs across groups and less moral behavior on average. Imperatives (general precepts) constitute an alternative mode of moral influence. We analyze their costs and benefits relative to those of narratives, and when the two will be used as substitutes or complements.
    Keywords: Moral behavior, narratives, imperatives, rules, excuses, responsibility, networks, viral transmission, influence, reputation, disclosure, communication, social norms
    JEL: D62 D64 D78 D83 D85 D91 H41 K42 L14 Z13
    Date: 2020–04

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.