Yves Le Yaouanq

Welcome! I am an Assistant Professor in economics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich.

My work lies at the intersection of decision theory and behavioral economics, with a particular interest in how to detect biases in decision-making and understand their policy implications.

You can download my CV here.

Research articles

1. Behavioral characterizations of naiveté for time-inconsistent preferences (download)
with David Ahn, Ryota Iijima and Todd Sarver
(R&R, Review of Economic Studies)

This paper replaces the earlier working paper "Anticipating preference reversals" (download).

We propose nonparametric definitions of absolute and comparative naiveté. These definitions leverage ex-ante choice of menu to identify predictions of future behavior and ex-post (random) choices from menus to identify actual behavior. The main advantage of our definitions is their independence from any assumed functional form for the utility function representing behavior. An individual is sophisticated if she is indifferent between choosing from a menu ex post or committing to the actual distribution of choices from that menu ex ante. She is naive if she prefers the flexibility in the menu, reflecting a mistaken belief that she will act more virtuously than she actually will. We propose two definitions of comparative naiveté and explore the restrictions implied by our definitions for several prominent models of time inconsistency. Finally, we discuss the implications of general naiveté for welfare and the design of commitment devices.

2. A model of ideological thinking (download)

This paper develops a theory in which heterogeneity in political preferences produces a partisan disagreement about objective facts. A political decision involving both idiosyncratic preferences and scientific knowledge is considered. Voters form motivated beliefs in order to improve their subjective anticipation of the future political outcome. In equilibrium, they tend to deny the scientific arguments advocating the political orientations that run counter to their interests. Collective denial is the strongest in societies where contingent policy is the least likely to be implemented, either because of voters' intrinsic preferences or because of rigidities in the political process. The theory predicts that providing mixed evidence produces a temporary polarization of beliefs, but that disclosing unequivocal information eliminates the disagreement.

3. It's not my fault! Self-confidence and experimentation (download)
with Nina Hestermann

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.