Nina Hestermann

Welcome to my webpage!

My name is Nina Hestermann and I am currently an associate lecturer at the University of St Andrews, after obtaining my phd from the Toulouse School of Economics in July 2018. I work on projects in behavioral economics and economics of education. My main research interest lies in the way that personality traits affect decisionmaking, notably through the way individuals process information about themselves and their environment. I am also interested in the consequences selective treatment of information may have when individuals are faced with ethically relevant decisions in their consumption choices.

Please find below a link to my CV, as well as links to the latest versions of my working papers and short summaries of work in progress.

You can download my CV here.

Email: nina.hestermann<at>


1) Does the provision of information on their skills affect students' enrollment choices? (joint with Nicolas Pistolesi) (Économie et Prévision, vol. 211, 2018, pp. 177–193)


This study assesses the impact of a French educational policy reform aimed at improving the match between students and their chosen field of study at university. As part of this reform, upon applying for entry to an undergraduate degree course, universities inform students about their likelihood of succeeding in their chosen field of study, based on their grades in high school and other indicators of their academic skills. To examine the effect of the feedback they receive on students' choices, we compare students applying to different departments within the same university, some of which implement the policy, providing candidates with feedback, whereas others do not. We find that among those receiving a negative feedback, the proportion of students who decide to enroll for the degree course in question is reduced by about 12 percentage points.

Working Papers:

1) It's not my fault! Self-confidence and experimentation (joint with Yves Le Yaouanq) (revise and resubmit: AEJ Micro)


This article studies the dynamic experimentation problem of an agent in a situation where the outcomes depend on two uncertain variables: the individual’s intrinsic ability and an external variable which is imperfectly known. We analyze the mistakes in inferences and experimentation decisions made by decision-makers who hold inaccurate prior beliefs about their ability. We show that overconfident individuals overestimate the importance of intrinsic ability relative to external factors if they succeed and underestimate it if they fail. The long-run welfare effects of initial miscalibrations in self-confidence are asymmetric: overconfident individuals are too easily dissatisfied with their environment, which endogenously leads them to experiment too much and to revise their self-confidence downwards over time; in contrast, underconfident decision-makers might be trapped in low-quality environments and incur utility losses forever. We discuss the implications of this theory for the attribution of guilt and merit in teams, and the formation of preferences over redistributive policies.

2) Separating the effect of self-esteem and locus of control on educational outcomes

This paper examines the impact students’ subjective beliefs concerning their own ability and the returns to their effort may have on their decision to invest in their human capital. Captured by the non-cognitive traits locus of control and self-esteem, these beliefs help explain inequality in education and wages for individuals with the same cognitive ability and socioeconomic background. A simple model of belief formation suggests a pathway by which these traits may affect decisonmaking, and allows to derive predictions concerning individuals’ decisions to invest in their human capital. The data confirm that these skills do matter for the decision to go to university and, in the case of locus of control, for sucessful completion of higher education. These traits affect investment decisions in a way comparable to that of cognitive ability, and enhancing students’ confidence and belief in the effectiveness of their investments may be an important aim for policy makers seeking to better educational outcomes for gifted students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

3) An Economic Model of the Meat Paradox (joint with Yves le Yaouanq and Nicolas Treich)(submitted)


We analyze the relationship between consumers attitudes towards animal welfare and their consumption of animal food products. We document in a survey a systematic and strong correlation between individuals' perceptions of animal suffering in conventional farming and their consumption habits. In line with the literature on the meat paradox, and with recent experimental evidence on belief distortion in social dilemmas, we propose a model of motivated belief formation where individuals understate the consequences of their actions on animals in order to alleviate the guilt caused by their consumption. (The survey questionnaire can be consulted here.)

Work in Progress: .

1) Are Beliefs "Optimal"? The Effect of Incentives on Self-Serving Beliefs (joint with Yves Le Yaouanq)

2) Self-Serving Attributions and Effort Investment : An Experimental Investigation (joint with Yves Le Yaouanq)

3) Performance Feedback and Study Effort : Empirical Evidence from French Undergraduates

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