Research

Publications

"Interaction of reasoning ability and distributional preferences in a social dilemma" (with Alexander Vostroknutov). Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 2017.

In a within subjects design we evaluate distributional preferences and reasoning ability to explain choices in the Traveler's Dilemma. We recruit subjects from economics and non-economics majors to have a high variance of preferences and abilities. We find that economists follow the efficiency criterion while non-economists follow maximin. Economists also show a better reasoning ability. We, therefore, confirm the self-selection hypothesis of choosing a major. An equilibrium of an incomplete information version of the Traveler's Dilemma explains the behavior we observe. Subjects with low reasoning ability make choices away from equilibrium. Thus, (non)cooperative behavior might be misinterpreted if subjects’ reasoning ability is not taken into account. 

Working Papers

"Social Preferences and the Variability of Conditional Cooperation" (with Simon Gächter, Kyeongtae Lee & Martin Sefton)
Revise and Resubmit at Economic Theory

We experimentally examine how the incentive to defect in a social dilemma affects conditional cooperation. In our first study we conduct online experiments in which subjects play eight Sequential Prisoner’s Dilemma games with payoffs systematically varied across games. We find that few second movers are conditionally cooperative (i.e., cooperate if and only if the first mover cooperates) in all eight games. Instead, most second-movers change strategies between games. The rate of conditional cooperation is higher when the own gain from defecting is lower and when the loss imposed on the first mover from defecting is higher. This pattern is consistent with both social preference models and stochastic choice models. To explore which model explains our findings we employ a second study to jointly estimate noise and social preference parameters at the individual level. The majority of our subjects place significantly positive weight on others’ payoffs, supporting the underlying role of social preferences in conditional cooperation.

"‘IOS11’: A new, extended, interactive version of the ‘Inclusion of Other in the Self’ scale" (with Chris Starmer, Fabio Tufano & Simon Gächter)
Revise and Resubmit at Scientific Reports

We introduce and test a new tool designed to measure “relationship closeness”. Studying relationship closeness has a long history in psychology and is currently expanding in other fields including economics. Our new measurement tool is a refinement of the widely used ‘Inclusion of Other in the Self’ scale (IOS for short) of Aron et al. (1992) and is designed to embody three key features. First, it retains attractive attributes of the standard IOS tool including being an effective measurement technique which is easy to implement and understand. Second, we enhance the scope for convenient use of the tool via the development of a portable interactive interface that will be particularly useful in online studies. Thirdly and crucially, through extensive pre-registered experimental testing, we demonstrate that our enhanced tool – IOS11 which features an 11-point response scale – outperforms previous versions of IOS in better proxying features of relationships captured by a range of more complex survey tools; the performance of IOS11 is also indistinguishable from that of the more complex ‘Oneness’ measure of Cialdini et al. (1997) which uses the standard IOS as one of its two-item inputs. 

Work in Progress

Testing a Condensed Methodology to Estimate Distributional Preferences (with Simon Gächter, Chris Starmer & Fabio Tufano)

Working paper in preparation [Draft available upon request]

In this paper, we introduce Flexi-DPE – Flexible Distributional Preference Elicitation – as a time- and budget-saving tool to estimate distributional preference parameters with as few as five decisions. We build on a method by Fisman et al. (2007), which uses 50 modified dictator games to estimate other-regarding concerns and preferences for efficiency. We show with simulations and experiments that preference parameters can be elicited accurately from 20 or even only 5 allocation decisions. Preferences elicited with Flexi-DPE are robust with and without incentives, stable over time, and predict charitable giving.

To hide or not to hide: How fear and futility affect the decision to report a mistake (with Sarah Bowen, Anna Hochleitner & Richard Mills)

Working paper in preparation

Investigating Associative Thinking: A Network Exploration Task (with Urs Fischbacher, Chris Starmer & Fabio Tufano)

Working paper in preparation

Altruism in Networks: A Field Experiment on Social Closeness, Preferences and Transfers (with Simon Gächter, Chris Starmer & Fabio Tufano)

Data analysis on-going

Promoting honesty in Business: The Role of Contemplation Questions (with Baiba Renerte, Carmen Tanner, Alexander Wagner & Nicole Witt)

Data collection on-going