Publications:

+ Teams Promise But Do Not Deliver

with Puja BhattacharyaJohn Kagel, and Arjun Sengupta            [Instructions] [20-min presentation]

Games & Economic Behavior, Volume 117, September 2019, Pages 420–432

People will promise./ It makes them cooperate./ But don’t trust a group!

Individuals and two-person teams play a hidden-action trust game with pre-play communication. We replicate previous results for individuals that non-binding promises increase cooperation rates, but this does not extend to teams. While teams promise to cooperate at the same rate as individuals, they consistently renege on those promises. Additional treatments begin to explore the basis for team behavior. We rule out explanations hypothesizing that concern for partner’s payoffs is the basis for team outcomes, as absent within-team communication, promise fulfillment rates increase compared to individuals. Rather, the results are consistent with the idea that communication between teammates provides support for self-serving behavior.

+ Timing of Communication

with Puja Bhattacharya and Arjun Sengupta         [Instructions] [30-min presentation]

Forthcoming, The Economic Journal

Promises are good/ but cooperation fades./ Reports are better.

Using an experiment, we demonstrate that a communication regime where a worker communicates about his intended effort is less effective in i) soliciting truthful information, and ii) motivating effort, than a regime where he communicates about his past effort. Our experiment uses a real-effort task, which additionally allows us to demonstrate the effects of communication on effort over time. We show that the timing of communication affects the dynamic pattern of work. In both treatments, individuals are most cooperative closest to the time of communication. Our results reveal that the timing of communication is a critical feature that merits attention in the design of mechanisms for information transmission in strategic settings.

+ Dynamic Risk Preferences Under Realized and Paper Outcomes

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 161, May 2019, Pages 68–78

More risk after wins/but play safe after losses./Realized and paper.

We conduct a large-scale test of dynamic risk preferences. While most of the literature on dynamic risk restricts attention to positively skewed gambles, subjects in our experiment tend to choose negatively skewed lotteries. This allows us to study dynamic risk preferences in an environment that the literature has not analyzed. We find evidence of the reinforcement effect—individuals take on more risk after a gain and take on less risk after a loss. Furthermore, we exogenously vary whether these outcomes are “realized” or on paper, according to the distinction put forth by Imas (2016). We find little difference in the responses to realized and paper outcomes in environments of negatively skewed risk.

Working Papers:

+ Preferences for the Resolution of Uncertainty and the Timing of Information

[60-min presentation]

Revision Resubmitted, Journal of Economic Theory

If it has happened/ you want to know it sooner./ Otherwise, you’ll wait.

We present results from a laboratory experiment designed to elicit preferences over the resolution of uncertainty and timing of non-instrumental information acquisition in a rich choice set. Treatments vary whether the uncertainty is framed as a compound lottery or information structure. We find that individuals prefer to delay uncertainty resolution when the choice is framed as a compound lottery and prefer to expedite uncertainty resolution when framed as an information structure. Preferences are strict, as individuals are willing to pay for information in one treatment and they pay to avoid information in the other. We find no evidence of an aversion to gradual resolution in either context.

+ Are Axioms Normative? Eliciting Axiom Preferences and Resolving Conflicts with Lottery Choices

with John Rehbeck        [60-min presentation]

You like a choice rule/but then you violate it./How to reconcile?

In a laboratory experiment, we directly elicit preferences over axioms by presenting them as abstract “decision rules” for making risky choices. Subjects then make lottery choices which might conflict with their stated axiom preferences. We elicit willingness-to-pay to re-evaluate these choices, and measure how choices are reconciled in the face of inconsistencies. We find that individuals state coherent preferences over axioms and change their choices to be consistent with the axioms. We benchmark these effects against “anti-normative” axioms, and explore implications for experimental design and theoretical models.

Works in Progress:

+ A Systematic Test of the Independence Axiom

with Ritesh Jain         [20-min presentation]

Independence fails/But not due to certainty./It’s the opposite!

We experimentally investigate the independence axiom, a central tenet of expected utility theory. We test independence using two-outcome lotteries that span the entire probability simplex. Subjects face binary choices between these lotteries and a fixed certain option. This allows us to compare independence violations when certainty is preferred to risk, which would be consistent with the well-known “certainty effect,” to those when risk is preferred to certainty, which would be consistent with the reverse certainty effect. We find that violations of independence consistent with the reverse certainty effect are much more common than violations consistent with the certainty effect, contrary to accepted experimental consensus and theoretical assumptions. We test the robustness of this result along two dimensions, varying the independence mixture and moving slightly away from certainty. Our experiment is one of the first to study the effect of certainty systematically across the probability simplex. Our results give new insight into independence violations which can guide theoretical models under risk.

+ Randomization Across Domains: Testing Theories of Probability Matching and Convex Preferences

with Marina Agranov and Paul J. Healy         [30-min presentation]

People randomize./ Theories can’t explain it./ Is it a heuristic?

We design a unifying experimental framework to study randomization behavior in decision problems and games. We have subjects choose between the same bets or actions twenty different times. Randomization is prevalent; between 40–60% of subjects randomize on a given question. Randomization is higher in games and strategic uncertainty contributes to randomization behavior. We document patterns of behavior and test theories in the literature which could explain randomization behavior. A “contingent reasoning” treatment reduces randomization in environments where randomizing violates first order stochastic dominance but does not reduce randomization otherwise.

+ How Randomization Impacts Response Times

with Ian Krajbich

Indifference is slow./Does flipping a coin speed up?/When might it help you?

+ Explaining Conditional Cooperation in Repeated Public Goods Games

with Paul J. Healy         [20-min presentation]

Contributions fall/ in repeated PG games./ It’s guilt aversion.

We experimentally investigate the nature of conditional cooperation in a repeated linear public goods game. By providing data from previous sessions, we exogenously manipulate subjects’ first- and second-order beliefs to test theories of reciprocity (Rabin 1993, Dufwenberg & Kirchsteiger 2004) and guilt aversion (Battigalli & Dufwenberg 2007). We find that subjects respond to both second-order beliefs, contributing more when they think others expect them to do so. Our results support theories of guilt aversion. Data on elicited utilities shows that preferences become more selfish throughout the game, further contributing to the decline in cooperation.

+ Testing the Axiomatic Foundation of Risky Intertemporal Choice

[20-min presentation]

Does DEU hold/ without present certainty?/ Let’s test axioms.

+ The Spillover Effects of Gendered Virtual Assistants

with Ian Chadd and Siri Isaksson

VAs are female./ Boss them around, curse at them./ This hurts real women.