nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2023‒08‒28
four papers chosen by

  1. Trajectories of Early Childhood Skill Development and Maternal Mental Health By Sevim, Dilek; Baranov, Victoria; Bhalotra, Sonia; Maselko, Joanna; Biroli, Pietro
  2. Dark versus Light Personality Types and Moral Choice By Dickinson, David L.
  3. The Education-Health Gradient: Revisiting the Role of Socio-Emotional Skills By Gørtz, Mette; Gensowski, Miriam
  4. The Homer economicus narrative: from cognitive psychology to individual public policies By Guilhem Lecouteux

  1. By: Sevim, Dilek (University of Basel); Baranov, Victoria (University of Melbourne); Bhalotra, Sonia (University of Warwick); Maselko, Joanna (University of North Carolina); Biroli, Pietro (University of Bologna)
    Abstract: We investigate the impacts of a perinatal psychosocial intervention on trajectories of maternal mental health and child skills, from birth to age 3. We find improved maternal mental health and functioning (0.17 – 0.29 SD), modest but imprecisely estimated improvements in parental investments (0.07 to 0.11 SD), and transitory improvements in child socioemotional development (0.06 to 0.39 SD). We also find negligible influence of the intervention on physical health and cognitive development. Estimates of a skill production function reveal that the intervention is associated with reduced productivity of maternal mental health and narrowed depression gaps in mother and child outcomes.
    Keywords: Mental health ; stress ; socioemotional ; RCT; child development ; technology of skill formation ; gender
    Date: 2023
  2. By: Dickinson, David L. (Appalachian State University)
    Abstract: Dark personality traits have been linked to behaviors commonly understood as unethical, such as fraud, bribe-taking, and marital infidelity. Presumably, more "light" personality traits may be associated with lesser tendencies to be unethical, but many individuals also possess both light and dark trait characteristics. This paper reports results from a preregistered study of over 2400 participants who completed validated short-form personality instruments to assess dark and light personality trait measures—the dark tetrad and a light "triad" of 3 personality dimensions were measured. Furthermore, participants completed 3 tasks of interest that contribute to an understanding or one's ethics: a task assessing prosociality, a task that presents a monetary temptation to be dishonest, and a hypothetical moral dilemma task. The results overall support the hypotheses that dark personality traits predict lower levels of prosociality, higher likelihood of dishonesty, and an increased willingness to make immoral choices overall. Potential mechanisms and implications are examined.
    Keywords: ethics, dark personality, moral choice, experiments
    JEL: C91 D91 D63
    Date: 2023–07
  3. By: Gørtz, Mette (University of Copenhagen); Gensowski, Miriam (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit)
    Abstract: Is the education-health gradient inflated because both education and health are associated with unobserved socio-emotional skills? Revisiting the literature, we find that the gradient is reduced by 30-45% by fine-grained personality facets and Locus of Control. Traditional aggregated Big-Five scales, in contrast, have a much smaller and mostly insignificant contribution to the gradient. We decompose the gradient into its components with an order-invariant method, and use sibling-fixed effects to address that much of the observed education-health gradient reflects associations rather than causal relationships. There are education-health gradients even within sibling pairs; personality facets reduce these gradients by 30% or more. Our analyses use an extraordinarily large survey (N=28, 261) linked to high-quality administrative registers with information on SES background and objective health outcomes.
    Keywords: inequality, Health-Education Gradient, personality, Big Five-2 Inventory, sibling fixed effects
    JEL: I14 I12 I24 I31
    Date: 2023–07
  4. By: Guilhem Lecouteux (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - UNS - Université Nice Sophia Antipolis (1965 - 2019) - COMUE UCA - COMUE Université Côte d'Azur (2015-2019) - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UCA - Université Côte d'Azur, COMUE UCA - COMUE Université Côte d'Azur (2015-2019))
    Abstract: A common narrative among some behavioural economists and policy makers is that experimental psychology highlights that individuals are more like Homer Simpson than the Mr Spock imagined by neoclassical economics, and that this justifies policies aiming to ‘correct' individual behaviours. This narrative is central to nudging policies and suggests that a better understanding of individual cognition will lead to better policy prescriptions. I argue that this Homer economicus narrative is methodologically flawed, and that its emphasis on cognition advances a distorted view of public policies consisting in fixing malfunctioning individuals, while ignoring the characteristics of the socio-economic environment that influence individuals' behaviours.
    Keywords: homo economicus, rational choice, replication crisis, behaviourally informed policy, Homer Simpson and Mr Spock
    Date: 2023

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