Research Interests

My research focuses on applied microeconomics in particular on antisocial behavior in economic settings. I currently employ theoretical and experimental methods but also agent based simulations to study those issues.

In my four dissertational papers I studied how spiteful preferences shape bidding behavior in auctions. In particular, I show that spite can explain overbidding, a common observation of behavior in auctions, theoretically and experimentally in several settings with various experiments.

Additionally, I am very interested in how subjects use and abuse their power in punishment settings. I also study how the evolution of unconditional cooperation influences overall cooperation, how cooperation is affected under group size uncertainty and how authority promotes ignorance.


In line with previous experimental findings I show that the symmetric equilibrium bid of a spiteful agent in third price auctions is higher than the risk neural Nash equilibrium bid.

We show that a second-party punisher forces his peers to contribute to a public good while contributing significantly less himself.

By means of simulation we show that conditional cooperators benefit from the existence of unconditional cooperators.

Working Papers

We investigate the question how conditional cooperation behavior changes under punishment. Using a hurdle model we can show that punishment does not lead free riders to be cooperators. However, we show that conditional contribution increases with punishment. Interestingly, this increase happens both for subjects targeted by punishment as well as for subjects executing the punishment.

We study the impact of Social Value Orientation on conditional cooperation under group size uncertainty. We show a stronger relationship between Social Value Orientation and cooperation under group size uncertainty compared to group size certainty and show that this can be explained by different beliefs and group size estimations by prosocials compared to proselfs.

We investigate power abuse of a single punisher in a public-goods-game subject to variations in punishment power and contribution transparency. We find a high amount of abuse across all conditions. More power leads to more abuse over time, while transparency could only curb abuse in the high power conditions. These findings highlight the dangers of power centralization, but suggest a more complex relation of power and transparency.

Work in progress

  • Spite vs. Risk: Explaining overbidding - A theoretical and experimental investigation (with Oliver Kirchkamp)

We measure spite and bidding behavior in a second price all-pay auction for our participants and find that the more spiteful participants also follow a bidding pattern which is theoretically in line with more spitefulness. We also derive equilibrium behavior for risk-averse participants, and we also measure risk-preferences. While in equilibrium risk averse agents are expected to underbid, we do not find evidence for this behavior in our data.

  • Spiteful behavior of Hillary Clinton supporters (with John Morgan)

We investigate the attitudes of supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton towards each other and how these attitudes affect spiteful behavior. We find that both Trump and Clinton supporters have less positive attitudes towards the opposing supporters. Interestingly, we show that Clinton supporters feel and behave significantly more negative towards Trump supporters.

  • Competition between friends and foes (with John Morgan)

We study how competitive behavior is impacted by the rival’s type. For that purpose we collected data on competitions, in form of first price auctions, between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters. We show that Clinton voters compete more aggressively against Trump voters compared to fellow Clinton voters. The observed behavior is in line with theory on spiteful bidding.

  • Spite in litigation: The benefit of the British rule

I study theoretically and experimentally the question which fee shifting rule is most robust towards other regarding preferences.

  • Does Authority promote ignorance? (with Michael Kurschilgen and Leonard Hoeft)

We investigate how authority affects information search and we show that authority cuts off information search and autonomous decision making.

  • The empirical advantage of video instructions (with Mike Farjam)

We show that video instructions increase the understanding and behavior of subjects. We discuss the benefits and costs of video instructions.