Will college students who set goals work harder and perform better? We report the results of two field experiments that involved four thousand college students. One experiment asked treated students to set goals for performance in the course; the other asked treated students to set goals for a particular task. Task-based goals had large and robust positive effects on the level of task completion, and task-based goals also increased course performance. We also find that performance-based goals had positive but small effects on course performance. We use theory that builds on present bias and loss aversion to interpret our results.
What explains large and persistent differences in reciprocity across social groups? This paper exploits variation in historical experience of democracy over space and time in Switzerland to highlight its strong positive association with reciprocity today. Individuals from regions that experienced democracy since the Middle Ages display stronger reciprocity than individuals from regions that acquired democracy only after the invasion by Napoleon. Because historical democracy was widespread in Swiss German but limited in Swiss French-speaking regions, individuals from these groups differ widely in their reciprocity. The difference, however, disappears when we compare Swiss Germans and Swiss French from regions without historical democracy. These results are not capturing current institutions, beliefs, migration, historical dynasties, language and other group-specific characteristics. Further results suggest that the emergence of historical democracy was due to idiosyncratic events and that its effect on reciprocity persists due to intergenerational transmission.
Roman Sheremeta is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and a research affiliate at the Economic Science Institute at Chapman University. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University. The focus of his research is in experimental economics and game theory, with applications to behavioral economics, conflict resolution, industrial organization, public and labor economics.
The presentation will be loosely based on the paper “Impulsive Behavior in Competition: Testing Theories of Overbidding in Rent-Seeking Contests.” https://ideas.repec.org/p/chu/wpaper/16-21.html
Muriel Niederle is a Department of Economics Professor at Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. She is a behavioral and experimental economist with a strong interest on gender differences in economic outcomes. Niederle also has a line of work on market design.
When two players compete for a prize, they sometimes try to act as quickly as possible. At other times, they wait and see if the other person chooses to flee first. We study this interaction in the context of a dynamic fight-or-flight game. At each moment, a player can decide to wait, flee or fight. Players are privately informed about their strengths, which in case of a battle determine who wins the prize. In the case that one player flees and manages to escape, the other player earns the prize plus a “chase-away value”. We show that the chase-away value determines if fights occur immediately or only after a waiting period. In cases where the chase-away value is positive but not too large, players can use time to learn something about the type of the opponent, as the weaker players may find it advantageous to flee earlier in the game. Weaker players thereby avoid the risk of ending up in a fight. We derive conditions under which this is the case, and test this experimentally in the lab. Our findings support the idea that endogenous timing can reduce the likelihood of a fight compared to a static version of the game (where players decide simultaneously whether to fight or flee). We also observe many fights early on in the game, even if strong players would benefit from waiting.