Peer-Reviewed Publications

Sequential competitions with a middle-mover advantage. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 91: 101667. 2021.

Decomposing democracy: A comment on “The Future Viability of the Dutch Democracy: A Model Case”. Munich Social Science Review, New Series, 3: 81-92. 2020.

Stress induces contextual blindness in lotteries and coordination games. (w/ Isabelle Brocas and Juan D. Carrillo) Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 11: Article 236. 2017.

Aligning democracy: A comment on Bruno S. Frey's "Proposals for a democracy of the future". Homo Oeconomicus 34: 243 - 251. doi: 10.1007/s41412-017-0053-4. 2017.

Crime, Punishment, and Evolution in an Adversarial Game. (w/ Michael McBride, Maria R. D'Orsogna, and Martin B. Short) European Journal of Applied Mathematics 27(3): 317-337. 2016.

Criminal Defectors Lead to the Emergence of Cooperation in an Experimental, Adversarial Game. (w/ Michael McBride, Maria R. D'Orsogna, and Martin B. Short) PLoS ONE 8(4): e61458. doi: 10.137/journal.pone.0061458. 2013.


Working Papers

Many choices involve trading-off what is safe for the individual and what is beneficial for the group. This tension is extensively studied as the ``Stag Hunt'' coordination game. By combining a new theoretical approach with two experiments, this paper shows a disconnection between behavior in Stag Hunt games and the predictions of many models. Any Stag Hunt game can be uniquely decomposed into three payoff components: strategic, behavioral, and kernel. The behavioral component exists in every Stag Hunt game despite being largely ignored by previous models. Arbitrarily many Stag Hunt games exist where these models predict the same behavior. Despite the constant predictions, behavior in repeated and one-shot games systematically vary. The mechanism underlying these results is that all models of Stag Hunt behavior ignore the influence of the behavioral component. A novel model is proposed which incorporates the behavioral component and accurately predicts behavior in repeated and one-shot contexts.

Any 2x2 game can be decomposed into three payoff components: strategic, behavioral, and kernel. The strategic component sufficiently determines the prediction for a large class of models focused on bounded rationality, including the most commonly used specifications for the Quantal Response Equilibrium and Cognitive Hierarchy. These models, along with others, exhibit a mathematical invariance to changes in a game's behavioral and kernel components, and this paper's primary hypothesis is that humans do not exhibit this invariance. An experiment consisting of 2x2 games shows that subjects systematically respond to changes in non-strategic information: in particular, the behavioral component.

We study policies aimed at discouraging behavior that produces negative externalities, and their differential gender impact. Using driving as an application, we develop a model where slowest vehicles are the safest choice, whereas faster driving speeds lead to higher potential payoffs but higher probabilities of accidents. Faster speeds have a personal benefit but create a negative externality. The model motivates four experimental policy conditions. We find that the most effective policies use different framing and endogenously determined punishment mechanisms (to fast drivers by other drivers). These policies are only effective for female drivers which leads to substantial gender payoff differences. Our data suggest that these results arise from differences in social norms across genders, thus opening the way to designing more effective policies.

What factors influence the choice of electoral systems? How do the rules to change the rules affect this choice? Can we predict what coalitions will select which rules? In this paper we employ a laboratory experiment that tests a special case of a model of electoral systems selection (Benoit 2004), one in which there is no existing rule in place. In the experiment, groups of subjects must select a voting rule (Plurality, Run-off, or Borda) to be used in an election that ultimately determines their earnings. We collect data on subjects’ choices and negotiation processes in a computerized chat. We compare this data across two treatments which vary the level of agreement required, either majority or unanimity, to select the voting rule. We find that the negotiation process and subsequent choice of voting rule depends on the meta-level agreement threshold rule. The Plurality rule is selected more often when a majority is needed whereas the Borda count rule is selected more often when unanimous agreement is required. We also find support for testable implications of the special case in Benoit’s model: When only a majority is required, the model accurately predicts the coalitions that form along with their selected voting rule. When unanimity is required, negotiations and choices are more likely to focus on fairness, equity, and maximizing total payoffs. In addition, negotiations and subsequent choices under the unanimity rule are similar to subject behavior when payoff-uncertainty is introduced.

Trading by Professional Traders: An Experiment (w/ Marco Cipriani, Roberta De Filippis, and Antonio Guarino)

We examine how professional traders behave in two financial market experiments. First, participants trade an asset over multiple periods after receiving private information about its value. Second, participants play the Guessing Game. Finally, subjects play our novel, individual-level version of the Guessing Game and we collect data on cognitive abilities, risk preference, and confidence. We find three differences between traders and students. Traders do not produce price bubbles observed in previous studies. Traders aggregate private information better. Traders show higher levels of strategic sophistication in the Guessing Game. These results are not driven by different individual characteristics (e.g., cognitive abilities).

25 minute presentation

Axios article

Risk preferences at the Time of COVID-19: An Experiment with Professional Traders and Students (w/ Marco Angrisani, Marco Cipriani, Antonio Guarino, and Julen Ortiz De Zarate Pina)

We study whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted risk preferences, comparing the results of experiments conducted before and during the outbreak. In each experiment, we elicit risk preferences from two sample groups: professional traders and students. We find that, on average, risk preferences have remained constant for both participant pools. Our results suggest that the increases in risk premia observed during the pandemic are not due to changes in risk appetite, rather, they are solely due to a change in market participants’ beliefs. Our findings support the traditional view that risk preferences are not affected by economic or social circumstances

Noncognitive Skills at the Time of COVID-19: An Experiment with Professional Traders and Students (w/ Marco Angrisani, Marco Cipriani, Antonio Guarino, and Julen Ortiz De Zarate Pina)

We study the impact of COVID-19 on noncognitive skills by comparing experimental results gathered before and during the outbreak. Using a sample of professional traders, we find a sharp decrease in Agreeableness and Locus of Control and a moderate decrease in Grit, whereas Trust, Conscientiousness and Self-Monitoring are unchanged. We contrast these results with those from a sample of undergraduates whose noncognitive skills remain constant (with the exception of Conscientiousness). Our findings provide evidence against the stability of noncognitive skills, particularly in professional traders.