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Keywords:Human behavior 

Report
Estimating a structural model of herd behavior in financial markets

We develop a new methodology for estimating the importance of herd behavior in financial markets. Specifically, we build a structural model of informational herding that can be estimated with financial transaction data. In the model, rational herding arises because of information-event uncertainty. We estimate the model using 1995 stock market data for Ashland Inc., a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Herding occurs often and is particularly pervasive on certain days. In an information-event day, on average, 2 percent (4 percent) of informed traders herd-buy (sell). In 7 percent ...
Staff Reports , Paper 561

Working Paper
Blood donations and incentives: evidence from a field experiment

There is a longstanding concern that material incentives might undermine prosocial motivation, leading to a decrease in blood donations rather than an increase. This paper provides an empirical test of how material incentives affect blood donations in a large-scale field experiment spanning three months and involving more than 10,000 previous donors. We examine two types of incentive: a lottery ticket and a free cholesterol test. Lottery tickets significantly increase donations, in particular among less motivated donors. The cholesterol test leads to no discernable impact on usable blood ...
Working Papers , Paper 08-3

Working Paper
Multiple selves in intertemporal choice

We propose that individuals consider future versions of themselves to truly be separate persons, not simply as a convenient modeling device but in terms of actual brain systems and decision-making processes. Intertemporal choices are thus quite literally strategic interactions between multiple agents. Previous neuroscientific studies have found evidence that systems involved with Theory of Mind (that is, mentalizing other agents) are similar to those involved with prospection (imagining oneself in the future). We provide a conceptual framework for this work and suggest that, instead of ...
Working Papers , Paper 09-17

Working Paper
Social networks and vaccination decisions

We combine information on social networks with medical records and survey data in order to examine how friends affect one's decision to get vaccinated against the flu. The random assignment of undergraduates to residential halls at a large private university allows us to estimate how peer effects influence health beliefs and vaccination choices. Our results indicate that social exposure to medical information raises people's perceptions of the benefits of immunization. The average student's belief about the vaccine's health value increases by $5.00 when an additional 10 percent of her friends ...
Working Papers , Paper 07-12

Working Paper
Managing self-confidence: theory and experimental evidence

Evidence from social psychology suggests that agents process information about their own ability in a biased manner. This evidence has motivated exciting research in behavioral economics, but also garnered critics who point out that it is potentially consistent with standard Bayesian updating. We implement a direct experimental test. We study a large sample of 656 undergraduate students, tracking the evolution of their beliefs about their own relative performance on an IQ test as they receive noisy feedback from a known data-generating process. Our design lets us repeatedly measure the ...
Working Papers , Paper 11-14

Working Paper
The power of sunspots: an experimental analysis

The authors show how the influence of extrinsic random signals depends on the noise structure of these signals. They present an experiment on a coordination game in which extrinsic random signals may generate sunspot equilibria. They measure how these signals affect behavior. Sunspot equilibria emerge naturally if there are salient public signals. Highly correlated private signals may also cause sunspot-driven behavior, even though this is no equilibrium. The higher the correlation of signals and the more easily these can be aggregated, the more powerful these signals are in moving actions ...
Working Papers , Paper 13-2

Working Paper
Active decisions and pro-social behavior

In this paper, we propose a decision framework where people are individually asked to either actively consent to or dissent from some pro-social behavior. We hypothesize that confronting individuals with the choice of whether to engage in a specific pro-social behavior contributes to the formation of issue-specific altruistic preferences, while simultaneously involving a commitment. The hypothesis is tested in a large-scale field experiment on blood donations. We find that this ?active-decision? intervention substantially increases the actual donation behavior of people who had not fully ...
Working Papers , Paper 07-13

Report
An experimental investigation of why individuals conform

Social interdependence is believed to play an important role in how people make individual choices. This paper presents a simple model constructed on the premise that people are motivated by their own payoff as well as by how their actions compare with those of other people in their reference group. I show that conformity of actions may arise either from learning about the norm (social learning), or from adhering to the norm because of image-related concerns (social influence). To disentangle the two empirically, I use the fact that image-related concerns can be present only if actions are ...
Staff Reports , Paper 365

Working Paper
Moral hazard, peer monitoring, and microcredit: field experimental evidence from Paraguay

Given the substantial amount of resources currently invested in microcredit programs, it is more important than ever to accurately assess the extent to which peer monitoring by borrowers faced with group liability contracts actually reduces moral hazard. We conduct a field experiment with women about to enter a group loan program in Paraguay and then gather administrative data on the members' repayment behavior in the six-month period following the experiment. In addition to the experiment which is designed to measure individual propensities to monitor under incentives similar to group ...
Working Papers , Paper 10-6

Working Paper
Another hidden cost of incentives: the detrimental effect on norm enforcement

Monetary incentives are often considered as a way to foster contributions to public goods in society and firms. This paper investigates experimentally the effect of monetary incentives in the presence of a norm enforcement mechanism. Norm enforcement through peer punishment has been shown to be effective in raising contributions by itself. We test whether and how monetary incentives interact with punishment and how this in turn affects contributions. Our main findings are that free riders are punished less harshly in the treatment with incentives, and as a consequence, average contributions ...
Working Papers , Paper 09-2

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