What is most important for me?
If you were to ask me about what is most important in my life, my answer would be my faith in Jesus Christ! Yes, I am a believer who also happened to be a scientist. If you get to know me, you will learn that I am not a complicated person. I just want to live a life that would fully reflect the teachings of Christ and His character.
I want to live my life with full integrity and commitment to people that I love, values that I hold, and faith that I have, so that when my life is over I would not be ashamed of it! I want to live my life to the fullest, just as it has been put in the song by Chris Tomlin: "I want to live like there's no tomorrow, I want to dance like no one's around, I want to sing like nobody's listening, before I lay my body down. I want to give like I have plenty, I want to love like I'm not afraid, I want to be the man I was meant to be, I want to be the way I was made."
For me life is about relationships. In the photo below are me (the tall guy on the left) and the three people who have greatly influenced my academic career (from right to left): Tim Cason (my former advisor, mentor, coauthor and friend), Vernon Smith (the 2002 Nobel Prize winner, my coauthor and friend), and Jingjing Zhang (my coauthor and friend).
What my life outside of academia is like?
Although research and teaching are a big part of my life, I also live an active life outside of academia. I am very involved in our local church. I have a number of hobbies, including travelling, chess, and music. In my free time, if such exists, I play the guitar and write songs. I really enjoy playing volleyball, ping-pong, and pool. Other recreational sports that I enjoy are swimming, skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, roller-blading, and sailing.
Why am I an experimental economist?
I started playing chess when I was 6. By the age of 12 I won more than 20 different championships and started to play professionally, but nevertheless I decided not to pursue a chess career. I still participated in national tournaments playing for my school and university, but my focus was on academic pursuit. Although I did not pursue a chess career, I became fascinated with the game because it involved a complex way of strategic reasoning - you have to think many moves ahead of your opponent in order to win the game.
As a student in a Game Theory class I learned that games such as chess and checkers have a dominance-solvable Nash equilibrium. In fact, Jonathan Schaeffer had already shown, through a game tree search algorithm, that the game of checkers always results in a draw if neither player makes a mistake (chess also has a solution, although it has not been discovered yet). This finding opens a staggering question: if the Nash equilibrium always results in a draw, then why do people still play checkers?
The answer is very simple: although Nash equilibrium combined with utility-maximizing preferences provides clear theoretical predictions, people are not unboundedly rational. They make mistakes and have limited foresight, and they care about the well-being of others. As experimental economists, we have the luxury of studying different behavioral issues which are often ignored by the theory. Consequently, we are able to better explain why people behave in certain ways and how they make economic choices.
It is absolutely fascinating to studying human behavior!