Social and Decision Sciences Fellow: 2013 - 2014
Carnegie Mellon University
Assistant Professor (Starting in July 2014)
Carnegie Mellon University, Social and Decision Sciences
Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Judgment and Decision Making
Phone: (224) 392-3669
Office: 319A Porter Hall 319A
M.Sc.: University of California, San Diego, 2010.
B.A.: Northwestern University, 2007.
Economics, with Honors
HONORS and AWARDS
PCN Center for Financial Services Innovation Grant
UCSD Institute for Applied Economics Grant
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, 2010-2013
UCSD Economics Graduate Summer Research Award
Dean's List, 2003-2007
"Conscience Accounting: Emotion Dynamics and Social Behavior" (with Uri Gneezy and Kristof Madarasz). Management Science, accepted.
Abstract: The paper reports the results of two experiments in which people who first made an immoral choice were then more likely to donate to charity than those who did not. In addition, those who knew that a donation opportunity would follow the potential moral transgression were more likely to behave immorally than those who were not told of the donation option. We develop a behavioral model where the increase in charitable behavior is driven by a temporal increase in guilt induced by past immoral actions and test its predictions. We term such behavior conscience accounting and discuss its importance in charitable giving.
"The Materazzi Effect and the Strategic Use of Anger" (with Uri Gneezy). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, accepted.
Abstract: We propose that individuals use anger strategically in interaction. We first show that in some environments angering people makes them more effective in competitions, whereas in others, anger makes them less effective. We then show that individuals anticipate these effects and strategically use the option to anger their opponents. In particular, they are more likely to anger their opponents when anger negatively affects the opponents' performances. This finding suggests people understand the effects of emotions on behavior and exploit them to their advantage.
"Working for Warm Glow: On the Benefits and Limits of Prosocial Incentives" Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming.
Abstract: We study whether using prosocial incentives, where effort is tied directly to charitable contributions, may lead to better performance than standard incentive schemes. In a real-effort task, individuals indeed work harder for charity than themselves, but only when incentive stakes are low. When stakes are raised, effort increases when individuals work for themselves but not when they work for others and, as a result, the difference in provided effort disappears. Individuals correctly anticipate these effects, choosing to work for charity at low incentives and for themselves at high incentives. The results are consistent with warm glow giving and have implications for optimal incentive design.
"Experimental Methods: Eliciting Risk Preferences" (with Gary Charness and Uri Gneezy). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, (2013), 87: 43-57.
Abstract: Economists and psychologists have developed a variety of experimental methodologies to elicit and assess individual risk attitudes. Choosing which to utilize, however, is largely dependent on the question one wants to answer, as well as the characteristics of the sample population. The goal of this paper is to present a series of prevailing methods for eliciting risk preferences and outline the advantages and disadvantages of each. We do not attempt to give a comprehensive account of all the methods or nuances of measuring risk, but rather to outline some advantages and disadvantages of different methods.
"Paying to be Nice: Costly Prosocial Behavior and Consistency" (with Ayelet Gneezy, Leif D. Nelson, Michael I. Norton and Amber Brown). Management Science, (2012), 58: 179-187. *Special issue on Behavioral Economics
Abstract: Building on previous research in economics and psychology, we propose that the costliness of initial prosocial behavior positively influences whether that behavior leads to consistent future behaviors. We suggest that costly prosocial behaviors serve as a signal of prosocial identity and that people subsequently behave in line with that self-perception. In contrast, costless prosocial acts do not signal much about one’s prosocial identity, so subsequent behavior is less likely to be consistent and may even show the reductions in prosocial behavior associated with licensing. The results of a laboratory experiment and a large field experiment converge to support our account.
Media Coverage: New York Times
"Can't Help Myself: Perceived Helplessness and Consumer Behavior" (with Ayelet Gneezy).
Abstract: Feelings of helplessness are associated with destructive cyclical behavior leading to poverty traps and chronic addictions. Individuals stuck in these cycles often display aberrant preferences such as increased myopia and overvaluation of high-risk prospects. We present causal evidence for the role of helplessness in increasing individuals’ discounting of the future, as well as their preference for high-risk high-reward opportunities. We first show that when helplessness is induced in non-poor individuals in the lab, they display the same sort of increased myopia as poor and unemployed individuals in the field – they are more likely to choose a smaller amount sooner than a larger amount later. Importantly, both groups discount the future significantly more than non-poor individuals in the field and in the lab when helplessness was not induced. We then demonstrate the same pattern for the valuation of high-risk, high reward lotteries: when helplessness is induced, non-poor individuals value such gambles significantly more. This pattern appears to be driven by an increase in negative affect, leading to more pronounced weighting of low-probability events. We discuss ways our results could inform policy makers and institutions attempting to prevent and mitigate the incidence of destructive cyclical behavior.
"Taking Control: The Role of Helplessness in Negative Reciprocity" (with Ayelet Gneezy and Dan Ariely).
Abstract: We propose that one important driver of negative reciprocity and revenge is the helplessness individuals experience during an offensive interaction. In our framework, engaging in revenge helps reestablish control and alleviate this negative state. Results from one field study and three lab experiments show offensive interactions increase individuals’ desire for control and motivation for revenge. Endowing individuals with the option to control the offensive interaction—even when they do not exercise that option—significantly moderates these effects. Together, the results converge to support the role of helplessness in negative reciprocity and revenge behavior.
"EEG-based Method for Biometric Identity Confirmation" (with Michael Milgramm). U.S. Patent No. 7,594,122. (Link)
"EEG-based Method for Real Time Attitude Assessment" (with Michael Milgramm). U.S. Patent No. 7,570,991. (Link)
"EEG-based Method for Attention and Productivity Monitoring" (with Michael Milgramm). U.S. Patent No. 7,574,254. (Link)
"Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1 Regulates Integrin
αvβ3Expression and Autocrine TGFβ Signaling" (with Benjamin S. Pedjora, Leah E. Kang, Peter Carmeliet and Audrey M. Bernstein). Journal of Biological Chemistry, June 2009, 284. (Link)