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, behavioral economics and experimental economics.

You can download my CV here.


Working papers

Learning about one's self (paper, pre-analysis plan, experimental instructions)
with Peter Schwardmann

How can naiveté about present bias persist despite experience? To answer this question, our experiment investigates participants’ ability to learn from their own behavior. Participants decide how much to work on a real effort task on two predetermined dates. In the week preceding each work date, they state their commitment preferences and predictions of future effort. While we find that participants are present biased and initially naive about their bias, our methodology enables us to establish that they are Bayesian in how they learn from their experience at the first work date. A treatment in which we vary the nature of the task at the second date further shows that learning is unencumbered by a change in environment. Our results suggest that persistent naiveté cannot be explained by a fundamental inferential bias. At the same time, we find that participants initially underestimate the information that their experience will provide - a bias that may lead to underinvestment in experimentation and a failure to activate self-regulation mechanisms.


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

We study the inference and experimentation problem of an agent in a situation where the outcomes depend on the individual’s intrinsic ability and on an external variable. We analyze the mistakes made by decision-makers who hold inaccurate prior beliefs about their ability. Overconfident individuals take too much credit for their successes and excessively blame external factors if they fail. They are too easily dissatisfied with their environment, which leads them to experiment in variable environments and revise their self-confidence over time. In contrast, underconfident decision-makers might be trapped in low-quality environments and incur perpetual utility losses.

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.


Work in progress

An axiomatic model of belief distortion
with Mira Frick and Ryota Iijima

An economic model of the meat paradox
with Nina Hestermann and Nicolas Treich


Publications

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

We propose nonparametric definitions of absolute and comparative naivete. 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 ex ante between retaining the option to choose from a menu ex post or committing to her actual distribution of choices from that menu. 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 naivete and explore the restrictions implied by our definitions for several prominent models of time inconsistency.