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Experimental and Behavioural Economics

Experimental and Behavioural Economics

The Experimental and Behavioural Economics Research Group (EBERG) draws its membership from economists based at the Economics Department at Warwick who work in the fields of Experimental Economics, Behavioural Economics and/or Subjective Wellbeing (“Happiness Economics”). Experimental methods are used in many fields of economics, including behavioural economics, public economics, labour economics, political economy, game theory, and financial economics. Behavioural economics is an attempt to understand decision-making in the context of the many psychological, cognitive and emotional factors that influence behaviour. Behavioural economists typically build on traditional economic models with insights from psychology or neuroscience. Since behavioural economics concerns the underlying motivations for behaviour it can be hard (though not impossible) to find data to support or develop behavioural theories without the use of experimental methods which explains the close relationship between the two fields.

Experimental and behavioural research are fundamentally interdisciplinary and this is reflected in the fact that the group is linked to other similar groups across the University of Warwick and beyond. DR@W is the overarching interdisciplinary group of all behavioural scientists in Warwick which, together with EBERG, also takes members from the Behavioural Science Group at Warwick Business School and behavioural and experimental psychologists based in the Psychology Department, and hosts a weekly seminar, the DR@W Forum. Many members of EBERG are also affiliated with Bridges, an interdisciplinary centre that includes behavioural and experimental work in its remit that also hosts regular seminars and workshops. Behaviour, Brain and Society is one of the University of Warwick’s global research priorities (GRPs) and the co-ordinator of EBERG sits on the board of the GRP. Several group members are actively involved in the ESRC CAGE centre. Theme 3 of CAGE is led by the co-ordinator of EBERG and has a special focus on subjective wellbeing.

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DR@W Forum Online: Chris Olivola (Carnegie-Mellon)

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Decisions to be altruistic (or not) are typically thought to result from explicit, salient internal conflicts between self-serving and other-regarding motives. We show, however, that, when faced with a choice between a selfish or altruistic outcome, people’s decisions are biased by a fundamental, yet implicit, asymmetry in the attention (or weight) given to the opportunity costs associated with each alternative. We provide converging evidence for the existence of this subtle, but consequential, default asymmetry in how people attend to their own vs. others’ outcomes, and we highlight a novel semantic “nudge” that increases generosity by countering this tendency. We also elucidate the underlying cognitive processes that drive the initial asymmetry and the nudge to counter it.
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