nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2022‒05‒09
four papers chosen by

  1. Political Support, Cognitive Dissonance and Political Preferences By Tanja Artiga González; Francesco Capozza; Georg D. Granic
  2. Endogenous Risk Attitudes By Nick Netzer; Arthur Robson; Jakub Steiner; Pavel Kocourek
  3. Time and Risk Preferences of Children Predict Health Behaviors but not BMI By Greta List; John List; Lina Ramirez; Anya Samek
  4. You are what your parents expect: Height and local reference points By Fan Wang; Esteban Puentes; Jere R. Behrman; Fl\'avio Cunha

  1. By: Tanja Artiga González; Francesco Capozza; Georg D. Granic
    Abstract: Voters often express support for a candidate whose policy platforms differ from their ideal policy preferences. We argue that under these circumstance acts of expressing support can causally change voters’ policy preferences. We conceptualize our arguments in a theoretical model of policy preference changes rooted in cognitive dissonance theory. A pre-registered, online experiment with 1,200 U.S. participants confirms our main hypotheses. As predicted by cognitive dissonance theory, voters align their policy preferences with those of the supported candidate. The more important the policy issue, the sharper the change in preferences. We also find that larger pre-support policy distance and higher effort in expressing support increases the magnitude of preference changes. Our results suggest that policy preferences can change mechanically after voters express support for a candidate.
    Keywords: political participation, political support, political preferences, cognitive dissonance, online experiment
    JEL: C91 D72 D91
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Nick Netzer; Arthur Robson; Jakub Steiner; Pavel Kocourek
    Abstract: In a model inspired by neuroscience, we show that constrained optimal perception encodes lottery rewards using an S-shaped encoding function and over-samples low-probability events. The implications of this perception strategy for behavior depend on the decision-maker’s understanding of the risk. The strategy does not distort choice in the limit as perception frictions vanish when the decision-maker fully understands the decision problem. If, however, the decision-maker underrates the complexity of the decision problem, then risk attitudes reflect properties of the perception strategy even for vanishing perception frictions. The model explains adaptive risk attitudes and probability weighting as in prospect theory and, additionally, predicts that risk attitudes are strengthened by time pressure and attenuated by anticipation of large risks.
    Keywords: endogenous preferences, probability distortions, misspecified learning
    JEL: D81 D87 D91
    Date: 2022
  3. By: Greta List; John List; Lina Ramirez; Anya Samek
    Abstract: We conduct experiments with 720 children ages 9-11 to evaluate the relationship of time and risk preferences with health. Children who are more patient report consuming fewer unhealthy calories and spending less time on sedentary activities such as video games. Children who are more risk seeking report engaging in more exercise and more screen time. However, time and risk preferences are not predictive of body mass index (BMI). Moreover, some of the negative health behaviors, such as screen time, are associated with lower - rather than higher - BMI.
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Fan Wang; Esteban Puentes; Jere R. Behrman; Fl\'avio Cunha
    Abstract: Recent estimates are that about 150 million children under five years of age are stunted, with substantial negative consequences for their schooling, cognitive skills, health, and economic productivity. Therefore, understanding what determines such growth retardation is significant for designing public policies that aim to address this issue. We build a model for nutritional choices and health with reference-dependent preferences. Parents care about the health of their children relative to some reference population. In our empirical model, we use height as the health outcome that parents target. Reference height is an equilibrium object determined by earlier cohorts' parents' nutritional choices in the same village. We explore the exogenous variation in reference height produced by a protein-supplementation experiment in Guatemala to estimate our model's parameters. We use our model to decompose the impact of the protein intervention on height into price and reference-point effects. We find that the changes in reference points account for 65% of the height difference between two-year-old children in experimental and control villages in the sixth annual cohort born after the initiation of the intervention.
    Date: 2022–04

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