Abstract: This paper tests how subjects behave in an intertemporal consumption/saving experiment when borrowing is allowed and whether subjects treat debt differently than savings. Two treatments create environments where either saving or borrowing is required for optimal consumption. Since both treatments share the same optimal consumption levels, actual consumption choices can be directly compared across treatments. The experimental findings imply that deviations from optimal behavior are higher when subjects have to borrow than when they have to save in order to consume optimally, suggesting debt-aversion. Signifiant underconsumption is observed when subjects have to borrow in order to reach optimal consumption. Only weak evidence is found suggesting that subjects over-consume when saving is necessary for optimal consumption.
What if our brain could sense gravitational waves via quantum effects? In that case it would pick up different conjunctions of heavenly bodies. Could that be the basis of the much-maligned area of astrology?
I just read an article on astrology (Does Astrology Work? I’m Gonna Go With “No.” in Bad Astronomy). I’ve never believed in horoscopes and all the other astrological claptrap. How could the positions of planets possibly influence your personality and behavior?
But hold on here. I pride myself on being open-minded to different ideas and thoughts, even to ones that possibly sound ridiculous. And, hmmm, in the part I have been known to be wrong on certain other matters I then thought to be equally, if not even more ridiculous. So let’s give astrology the benefit of the doubt for the moment and consider what mechanism could possibly exist that would make it a real and, gasp, useful phenomenon.
I’m going to talk gravitational waves for the moment. Bear with me, there’s a reason.
Einstein’s general theory of relativity posits that there must be gravitational waves. Problem is, we’ve never found them although there have been numerous false sightings.
But researchers haven’t given up. There have been several approaches ranging from hanging large weights and looking for tiny displacements to the recent apparently failed experiment to look for the tell-tale ripples that gravitational waves would leave on dark matter. Yep, it’s all beyond me too.
But the general idea is that you have to make a detector that has extraordinary sensitivity which could sense waves that are unfathomably weak. Then you use some of the amazing instruments that are constantly emerging from high tech labs to measure the changes in the detector. Piece of cake right?
Abstract: We conduct a field experiment in a naturally occurring labor environment and track whether the performance of workers responds to unexpected wage increases. Specifically, we investigate how the timing of wage increases affects efforts. We find that workers performance is about 11% higher for the same total wage when their wage is increased in two steps as opposed to a single increase at the outset. Moreover, workers are more honest and are more willing to do voluntary extra work after surprising wage increases compared to a baseline condition without increases.
The casual outfit that Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg sported in front of elegantly dressed bankers and investors just before his company went public generated much clamor in the media. While some observers judged the young entrepreneur’s choice to wear his typical hoodie and jeans on such an official occasion as a mark of immaturity, others defended it as a sign of boldness that helped spread publicity about the deal.
Why is the “CEO Casual” look sported by Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and certain other business leaders interpreted as a sign of status, while other professionals in casual dress would be laughed out of a job interview? Our research explores the conditions under which nonconforming behaviors, such as wearing red sneakers in a professional setting or entering a luxury boutique wearing gym clothes, lead to attributions of enhanced status and competence rather than social disapproval.
Treat your gut well and this is why your brain will thank you.
Changes in bacteria in the gut are linked to critical psychological changes, a new mouse study finds.
A high-fat diet could increase the risk of repetitive behaviours, depression and anxiety, researchers have concluded.
Dr. John Krystal, editor of journal Biological Psychiatry, where the article was published, said:
“This paper suggests that high-fat diets impair brain health, in part, by disrupting the symbiotic relationship between humans and the microorganisms that occupy our gastrointestinal tracts.”
As the authors write, this is the…
“…first definitive evidence that high-fat diet-induced changes to the gut microbiome [the community of organisms in the human gut] are sufficient to disrupt brain physiology and function in the absence of obesity.” (Annadora et al., 2015)
The Google Define:Hypocrisy command returns the following definition: “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense”. Hypocrisy can be conscious or unconscious. People can be aware that their beliefs are contradicted by their daily behavior or not. In this latter case, hypocrisy is often obvious to observers.
Have you ever wondered how people can live comfortably with hypocrisy? For example, have you ever wondered how good people who believe strongly in the American creed and constitution that holds that all men are created equal with inalienable rights can engage in extreme racism, as was once openly practiced by well-respected southern white gentlemen and is practiced to a lesser extent by many people today? Or, have you ever wondered how good German citizens could support Hitler’s persecution of the Jews?
Have you ever heard about the piano stairs made famous by Fun Theory? Sure, you have.
At least, when I give talks on the Nudge doctrine everybody seems to know the piano stairs. The YouTube video has apparently spread like a wildfire throughout the world. Watched by millions of tired office workers in search of 15 seconds of fun while tied to their desks; spread by collegial nudges penetrating the walls of the cubicles – “Hey take a look at this!”
But does it really work? And what about the claim that seems to be almost as widespread as the video: the belief amongst many public decision-makers and practitioners that Nudge and FunTheory are basically the same – is that claim true?
Abstract: We use a series of field experiments in the Palestinian Territories to explore the impact of exposure to shocks on risk, time and ambiguity preferences. We exploit the historical episode of the construction of the separation wall between the State of Israel and the West Bank as an exogenous shock to test changes in fundamental preferences. We find that the wall affects preferences: people in isolated communities are significantly more risk-tolerant and ambiguity-averse than people who never experienced the wall. While we find insignificant differences in discount rates and loss-aversion, our results show patterns of time-varying discount rates and heterogeneity across socio-economic groups. We test alternative mechanisms linking shocks to changes in behaviour. Our evidence suggests that observed differences in risk and ambiguity are not the result of changes in subjective beliefs, learning or emotional reactions, but they are consistent with the hypothesis of a preference shift. This study suggests that large adverse shocks may have long-lasting consequences on individual decision-making with potential effects on savings, investments and consumption patterns.
Highly anxious people have more trouble deciding how best to handle life’s uncertainties. They may even catastrophize, interpreting, say, a lovers’ tiff as a doomed relationship or a workplace change as a career threat.
In gauging people’s response to unpredictability, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Oxford found that people prone to high anxiety have a tougher time reading the environmental cues that could help them avoid a bad outcome.
Their findings, reported today (March 2) in the journalNature Neuroscience, hint at a glitch in the brain’s higher-order decision-making circuitry that could eventually be targeted in the treatment of anxiety disorders, which affect some 40 million American adults.
“Our results show that anxiety may be linked to difficulty in using information about whether the situations we face daily, including relationship dynamics, are stable or not, and deciding how to react,” said study senior author Sonia Bishop, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and principal investigator of the study.
Abstract: We study whether cognitive ability explains choices in a wide variety of behavioral tasks, including riskand social preferences, by collecting evidence from almost 1,200 subjects across eight experimentalprojects. Since Frederick (2005)'s Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) has been administered to allsubjects, our dataset is one of the largest in the literature. We divide the subjects pool into three groupsdepending on their CRT performance. Reflective subjects are those answering at least two of the threeCRT questions correctly. Impulsive ones are those who are unable to suppress the instinctive impulseto follow the intuitive although incorrect answer in at least two 2 questions, and the remaining subjectsform a residual group. We find that females score significantly worse than males in the CRT, and intheir wrong answers impulsive ones are observed more frequently. The 2D-4D ratio, which is higherfor females, is correlated negatively with subject's CRT score. In addition, we find that differencesbetween CRT groups in risk aversion depend on the elicitation method used. Finally, impulsive subjectshave higher social preferences, while reflective subjects are more likely to satisfy basic consistencyconditions in lottery choices.
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to give a principled answer to the question of under what conditions measures of happiness or life satisfaction, understood as subjectively experienced mental states, can serve as proxies for well-being. According to a widely held view, measures of happiness and life satisfaction represent well-being because happiness andlife satisfaction are constitutive of well-being. This position, however, is untenable. Efforts to address this question interms of Amartya Sen’s capability approach have been similarly unsuccessful. Instead, I argue, happiness and lifesatisfaction matter because, and insofar as, people want to be happy and/or satisfied; consequently, measures ofhappiness and life satisfaction can serve as measures of well-being whenever happiness is sufficiently correlated with orcausally efficacious in bringing about greater preference satisfaction. While this position entails a less expansive view ofthe uses of happiness and life satisfaction measures, I maintain that if their proponents were to take this line, many ofthe objections to their enterprise can be met
Neuroeconomics is a new and highly interdisciplinary field. Drawing from theories and methodologies employed in both economics and neuroscience, it aims at understanding the neural systems supporting and affecting economically relevant behaviour in real-life situations. Although incomplete, the evidence is beginning to clarify with the possibility that neuroeconomic methodology might eventually trace whole processes of economically relevant behaviour. This paper accompanies the author's ConNEcs 2004 keynote speech on applications of neuroeconomic research.
Children of poorer, less educated parents have smaller cerebral cortices, study findsStark and rising inequality plagues many countries, including the United States, and politicians, economists, and—fortunately—scientists, aredebating its causes and solutions. But inequality’s effects may go beyond simple access to opportunity: a new study finds that family differences in income and education are directly correlated with brain size in developing children and adolescents. The findings could have important policy implications and provide new arguments for early antipoverty interventions, researchers say.
Researchers have long known that children from families with higher socioeconomic status do better on a number of cognitive measures, including IQ scores, reading and language batteries, and tests of so-called executive function—the ability to focus attention on a task. More recently, some studies have found that key brain areas in children of higher socioeconomic status—such as those involved in memory or language—tend to be either larger in volume, more developed, or both. However, these studies have suffered from some important limitations: For one thing, they don’t adequately distinguish socioeconomic status from racial background, which in the United States are difficult to tease apart because nonwhite groups tend to have higher poverty levels. And few studies treat family income and education levels as independent factors, even though they can act differently on the child’s developing brain. For example, income may be a better indicator of the material resources (such as healthy food and medical care) available to a child, whereas more highly educated parents may be better able to stimulate their child’s intellectual development.
These apps offer an unique approach to the field of neuroscience. Using smartphones to learn is a growing trend thanks to the efforts of cross-platform learning services. For now, learning on mobile isn’t nearly as efficient as learning on a computer but a minute here and a minute there really adds up over time. If you’re interested in learning neuroscience or about the brain in general, check out the best free Android neuroscience apps.
This paper presents a model of urban traffic congestion that allows for hypercongestion. Hypercongestion has fundamental importance for the costs of congestion and the effect of policies such as road pricing, transit provision and traffic management, treated in the paper. In the simplest version of the model, the unregulated Nash equilibrium is also the social optimum among a wide range of potential outcomes and any reasonable road pricing scheme will be welfare decreasing. Large welfare gains can be achieved through road pricing when there is hypercongestion and travelers are heterogeneous.
Fosgerau, Mogens (2015): Congestion in the bathtub.
La psicosi della minaccia sciita La crisi yemenita entra oggi in una nuova fase, probabilmente ancora più cruenta. L’impegno militare saudita e della coalizione regionale araba viene allo scoperto, dimostrando la natura della posta in gioco nel paese. Probabilmente Riyad è consapevole che l'Iran ha in Yemen un ruolo minore e una capacità d’influenza che gran parte della comunità internazionale ha esagerato; ma non intende abbassare i toni della bellicosa retorica contro la Repubblica Islamica, temendo una reale saldatura tra le forze sciite della regione. L’apparentemente inarrestabile avanzata degli Huthi viene considerata adesso dall’Arabia Saudita come un'ulteriore, temibile minaccia, su cui non concedere spazi all’avversario e in funzione della quale chiamare alla mobilitazione tutto l’arco delle alleanze regionali in campo sunnita. Le monarchie del Golfo senza mezzi termini denunciano l’Iran e l’Onu quali artefici del collasso istituzionale dello Yemen,
Intermolecular interactions within living organisms have been found to occur not as individual independent events but as a part of a collective array of interconnected events. The problem of the emergence of this collective dynamics and of the correlated biocommunication therefore arises. In the present paper we review the proposals given within the paradigm of modern molecular biology and those given by some holistic approaches to biology. In recent times, the collective behavior of ensembles of microscopic units (atoms/molecules) has been addressed in the conceptual framework of Quantum Field Theory. The possibility of producing physical states where all the components of the ensemble move in unison has been recognized. In such cases, electromagnetic fields trapped within the ensemble appear. In the present paper we present a scheme based on Quantum Field Theory where molecules are able to move in phase-correlated unison among them and with a self-produced electromagnetic field. Experimental corroboration of this scheme is presented. Some consequences for future biological developments are discussed.
Katherine Ellison, una giornalista affermata che, prima di sposarsi e avere due figli, faceva la corrispondente dal Sudamerica per il “Miami Herald”quando è rimasta incinta ha pensato con terrore alle cose che si sentono sul cervello delle mamme, che è più lento, che “perde colpi”. E al fatto che le madri, durante e dopo la gravidanza, sarebbero meno presenti a se stesse, nelle attività domestiche così come in quelle lavorative.
Personalmente, io questa non l’avevo mai sentita, eppure sulle donne ne ho sentite tante, ma se l’ha sentita, qualcuno l’avrà detta. Però lei questo “calo di intelletto” non lo avvertiva. Ha cominciato a fare ricerche e ha raccolto le prove scientifiche che il cervello delle mamme è più efficiente. Perché i bambini rappresentano uno straordinario “catalizzatore dell’intelligenza”.
The character Mary Poppins famously sang "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down" (and I apologise that you'll now have that song in your head all day).
And now there’s some behavioural research which suggests that Mary might not only have convinced the kids to swallow their medicine, but been on the money when it comes to getting people to do tough stuff.
Abstract: We provide experimental evidence on behavior in a public goods game featuring a so-called point of no return, meaning that if the group’s total contribution falls below this point all payoffs are reduced. Participants receive either common or private signals about the point of no return, and experience either high or low reductions in payoffs if insufficient contributions are made. Our data reveal that, as expected, contributions are higher if the cost of not reaching the threshold is high than if it is low. High signal values discourage contributions and endanger the likelihood of success when signals are common, but not when signals are private. In addition, successful coordination of contributions is less frequent in a control treatment featuring a standard provision point mechanism than in the experimental treatment where the payoff reduction factor is high, although the theoretical predictions of the two games are similar.
At Geary Behavioural Economics Blog @LiamDelaneyUCD is looking for books on behavioral economics. Given my interest in the field,I would like to add a few books. I add a few on experimental economics, too, as both fields are close relatives.
First, let’s see what he already has on his list:
“Judgement Under Uncertainty: Heurisics and Biases” edited by Kahnemann, Slovic, and Tverky“Choices, Values, and Frames” edited by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky“Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgement.” edited by Thomas Gilovich, Dale Griffin, and Daniel Kahneman
What is neuroeconomics doing? This issue of Games and Economic Behavior collects a set of papers that apply the concepts, methods, and technical tools of neuroscience to economic analysis. This is what has by now come to be called neuroeconomics (NE). If one wants to understand what NE is, then the most useful way is probably to look at what NE does in concrete research, so we invite the curious reader to choose one of the articles and begin to read. But if one is questioning the method or even the usefulness of this line of research, then an introduction may be the right place for a discussion. In particular this is true if one is trying to understand what this developing field of research is trying to accomplish in the future. The main content of this introduction will be an attempt to provide a possible answer to this question. In a different paper (Glimcher and Rustichini, 2004) Paul Glimcher and I have tried to provide our view on what neuroeconomics is technically, what methods it uses, and how researchers in the area are in general planning to deal with the classical themes of economics, decision theory and game theory in the first place. A different view is presented in Camerer et al. (2005). In summary, I think the following is the main point. At the very least, neuroeconomics provides new data in addition to those we have available from theoretical, empirical, and experimental research on human behavior.
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