Research Website of

Eugen Dimant


I am an Associate Professor of Practice in Behavioral & Decision Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. I'm also a fellow in the Behavioral and Decision Sciences Program, the Center for Social Norms and Behavioral Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania, an external fellow of the Centre for Decision Research & Experimental Economics (CeDEx) at the University of Nottingham & a Network Fellow at CESifo, Munich.

My research interests center on experimental behavioral economics with a particular focus on behavioral ethics, crime, and corruption. My most recent work has examined the role of social norms and nudges in affecting self-serving belief distortions and the contagion of pro- and anti-social behavior among individuals and groups. As a secondary interest, I am also involved in empirical research examining the relationships between corruption, terrorism, and migration. My Google Scholar page provides a good overview.

Prior to my current position, I was a Lab Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University's (under Lawrence Lessig), as well as an (affiliated) visiting researcher at

My most recent CV can be found here.


November 2020:

  • New working paper on "Understanding Cross-Cultural Differences in Peer Reporting Practices: Evidence from Tax Evasion Games in Moldova and France". The working paper can be downloaded here.

September 2020:

  • New working paper on the political polarization under Trump and the impact on social preferences. In particular, I examine three layers of polarization across multiple settings: I document the behavioral-, belief-, and norm-based mechanisms through which perceptions of interpersonal closeness, altruism, as well as cooperativeness are affected by polarization, both within and between political factions. The paper entitled "Hate Trumps Love: The Impact of Political Polarization on Social Preferences" can be downloaded here.

  • Our paper on "Persuading Conservatives and Liberals to Comply with Mask Wearing: A Nudge Tournament" has just been accepted at the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (based on our registered report). It now 'only' takes collecting the data and writing up the manuscript...

August 2020:

  • New experimental working paper with Tobias Gesche (ETH Zurich) on "Nudging Enforcers: How Norm Perceptions and Motives for Lying Shape Sanctions". Our findings suggest that norm enforcement can be successfully nudged and thus represent an expedient alternative to more costly, incentive-based interventions. The paper can be downloaded here: link

July 2020:

  • New working paper on the effect of U.S. military aid on anti-U.S. terrorism. Punchline: it's a pretty bad deal for the U.S. and not only leads to more anti-U.S. terrorism but also deteriorates the institutions of the recipient countries. You can find the paper here.

May 2020:

  • We published a fully revamped experimental working paper with Cristina Bicchieri, Simon Gächter and Daniele Nosenzo entitled 'Observability, Social Proximity & the Erosion of Norm Compliance'. We study how compliance evolves and erodes in a dynamic, non-strategic setting. The paper can be downloaded here.

April 2020:

  • I gave an interview on the 'Behavioral Grooves' podcast about the relationship between the current pandemic, social norms, and behavior change - with a particular focus on the empirical science behind it. You can listen to it here: link.

March 2020:

  • Our paper Requiem for a Nudge: Framing effects in nudging honesty, in which we examine the (in)effectiveness of nudge framing in achieving behavior change is now published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (link: here).

December 2019:

  • Following our workshop on 'Norms and Behavioral Change' (NoBeC), the great team from the Behavioral Grooves Podcast has interviewed me on my ongoing research. You can listen to it here. All the papers that were discussed during our interview are linked on that page.

November 2019:

  • Fully revised experimental working paper with Cristina Bicchieri and Silvia Sonderegger on "It's Not A Lie if You Believe the Norm Does Not Apply: Conditional Norm-Following with Strategic Beliefs". We explore the relationship between norm-uncertainty and lying and study the mechanism of belief-distortion as a means to facilitate lying. The paper can be found here.

July 2019:

  • Our paper on 'Nudging with Care: The Risks and Benefits of Social Information' (joint with Cristina Bicchieri) is now out in Public Choice (link here). There, we synthesize the literature on nudges, norms, and the growing approach of 'norm-nudging'. We provide actionable insights based on existing social norms theories and discuss them in light of recent experimental evidence.

  • Published a new paper entitled 'Requiem for a Nudge: Framing Effects in Nudging Honesty' (joint with Kleef van Gerben & Shaul Shalvi). This is a well-powered and pre-registered study examining the role of norm-nudge interventions on deviant behavior in a context in which subjective and objective risk is absent by design. Our main result: a convincing null! But we also have some surprising secondary results... See the working paper here.

May 2019:

  • The paper 'Contagion of Pro- and Anti-Social Behavior Among Peers and the Role of Social Proximity' is now forthcoming in Journal of Economic Psychology. I find that (I) anti-social behavior is more contagious than pro-social behavior, (II) social proximity amplifies anti-social contagion in particular, and (III) that initially anti-social people are the most susceptible to contagion through peers. The journal version of paper can be found here and an ungated version here.

April 2019:

  • New working paper out (joint with G. Bolton and U. Schmidt) on 'When a Nudge Backfires: Using Observation with Social and Economic Incentives to Promote Pro-Social Behavior'. In this paper, examine a popular nudge - observability of behavior - and question its universality. In fact, we find backfiring effects when the nudge uses only social as opposed to economic incentives. Our paper investigates the mechanisms of the backfiring (has to do with perceived inequity aversion) and we also provide a solution to prevent this (has to do with the perception of norms). Read here to find out more. Comments always welcome.

January 2019:

  • New experimental working paper entitled 'Becoming Friends or Foes? How Competitive Environments Shape Altruistic Preferences' (joint with K. Hyndman). The paper can be downloaded here.

November 2018:

  • Updated working paper out with Cristina Bicchieri and Erte Xiao on 'Deviant or Wrong? The Effects of Norm Information on the Efficacy of Punishment'. We show that norm information can enhance the effectiveness of punishment in some cases, and backfire in others. Read to found out what happens when here here.

August 2018:

  • Updated working paper with J. Buckenmaier, U. Schmidt, and A.-C. Posten on Efficient Institutions and Effective Deterrence: On Timing and Uncertainty of Punishment. We examine the relationship between the timing of punishment & resolution of uncertainty on deterrence. Main result: efficient institutions are not necessarily better. The paper can be found here

April 2018:

  • Our paper on the "Effects of Institutional History and Leniency on Collusive Corruption and Tax Evasion" (with J. Buckenmaier & L. Mittone) is now forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. Most recent WP

March 2018:

  • Published a new survey in Journal of Economic Surveys in the April 2018 issue that we hope comes in handy. Here, we shed light on the empirical causes and effects of corruption and what we have learned from past decade's research. The link to the paper titled Causes and Effects of Corruption: What has Past Decade's Empirical Research Taught Us? A Survey (joint work with G. Tosato) is here.