Experimental studies of context dependent behavior

Alempaki, Despoina (2018) Experimental studies of context dependent behavior. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Understanding how context shapes economic behavior has received considerable attention in recent years. This thesis contributes to the experimental literature on context dependency in economic decision making.

Chapter 1 introduces the thesis providing an overview of the common themes and methods underlying this research.

Chapter 2 reports a study that examines the relationship between (un)kind actions and subsequent deception. We study two types of deception: selfish lies that benefit the self and are costly for the counterpart, and spiteful lies that are costly for both players. We find that, in the domain of selfish lies, kind actions are rewarded by honesty, whereas there is no evidence of punishment of unkind actions. Further, we observe that individuals have a moral cost of lying regardless of the level of (un)kindness of the previous interaction. With spiteful lies, we find evidence for negative reciprocity, and no evidence of a moral cost of lying. Taken together, our results show that the moral cost of lying is not fixed, but is context dependent.

Chapter 3 reports a series of experiments investigating whether using a foreign instead of one’s native language affects selfish deception in informational asymmetry situations, and tests three proposed mechanisms behind the effect. Our experimental manipulation is the language used to conduct the experiments. We find that deception is language dependent: Native Chinese speakers who speak English as a foreign language lie significantly more in their native language. We show that social norms cannot explain this effect, and are in fact at odds with subjects’ behavior. Using native German speakers who speak English as a foreign language, we find that individuals behave in accordance with the generally expected behavior in the culture associated with the language.

Chapter 4 reports an extensive replication exercise inspired by a study conducted by Stewart et al. (2015) demonstrating that shapes of utility and probability weighting functions are context dependent; more specifically, the shape of the functions could be manipulated by adjusting the distributions of outcomes and probabilities on offer. Motivated by this challenge, we conducted a four-level replication inspired by the methodology of Levitt and List (2009), extended to incorporate a meta-analysis. We replicate the SRH effect across multiple experiments involving changes in many design features. Levels 3 and 4 of our replication, however, cast strong doubt on the explanation of the SRH effect proposed by Stewart et al. We consider alternative possible accounts of the SRH effect.

Chapter 5 concludes by summarizing the results of chapters 2 to 4, pointing out their limitations and suggesting directions for further research.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Starmer, Chris
Tufano, Fabio
Keywords: Economic behavior; Economic decision making; Deception; Replication exercise
Subjects: H Social sciences > HB Economic theory
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Economics
Item ID: 52116
Depositing User: Alempaki, Despoina
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2018 04:40
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2020 04:30
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/52116

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