Behavioral Social Science Workshop for Early Career Researchers
September 7 and 8, 2018
University of Essex
Assembled by Ahrash Dianat and Dominik Duell
Keynote Speech by Guillaume Frechette (NYU)
Supported by the Department of Economics and EssexLab

Room: 1N1.4.1

If you are interested in participating, please RSVP by emailing to


Friday, September 7
Lunch, 12:30 - 14:00
Session 1, 14:00 - 15:00
Terri Kneeland (UCL): Is bounded rationality driven by limited ability?

Elisa Cavatorta (King's College London): Does exposure to violence affect reciprocity? Experimental evidence from the West Bank

Session 2, 15:15 - 16:15
Florian Foos (King's College London): Can the tabloid media create Eurosceptic attitudes? A quasi-experiment on media influence in England

Are changes in citizens’ attitudes towards EU-integration endogenous to campaigns by tabloid media outlets? The question to what extent public opinion is a consequence, rather than a cause of media reports is difficult to answer because citizens self-select into media consumption. We use a unique quasi-experiment in the United Kingdom – the widespread boycott of the most important right-wing tabloid newspaper, the Sun, in Merseyside county as a direct consequence of the Sun’s reporting on the 1989 Hillsborough soccer disaster – to identify the effects of reading the Sun on attitudes towards leaving the EU. Using a difference-in-differences design based on British Social Attitudes data spanning the years from 1983 to 1996, we show that this specific event caused a sharp drop in Sun readership in Merseyside. We also show that attitudes towards the EU got significantly more positive in Merseyside during the boycott, compared to attitudes of respondents in other English regions. We estimate that this effect amounts to around 11 percentage-points. The results of this paper have important implications for our understanding of media effects, and suggest that the tabloid media played a role in influencing attitudes towards leaving the EU.

Kirill Pogorelskiy (Warwick): News We Like to Share: How News Sharing on Social Networks Influences Voting Outcomes

We study the relationship between news sharing on social media and information aggregation by voting. Our context-neutral laboratory experimental treatments mimic the features of social networks in the presence of media bias to address concerns that voters obtaining their political news via social media may become more polarized in their voting behavior.  Our results suggest that these concerns are warranted: subjects selectively share news that is favorable to their party and do not account for biased news signals in their voting decisions. Overall, subjects behave as if news sharing and voting is expressive of their induced partisanship even though by design, their preferences have a common value component. Given these patterns of individual behavior, the welfare implications of social networks reflect the underlying quality of the shared news:  with unbiased media, social networks raise collective decision making efficiency, but efficiency deteriorates markedly in the presence of media bias, as news signals become less reliable.

Session 3, 16:30 - 17:30
Matthew Embrey (Sussex): Gambling in Risk-Taking Contests: Experimental Evidence

Ahrash Dianat (Essex): Statistical Discrimination and Affirmative Action in the Lab

Dinner, 18:30 at Wivenhoe House Brasserie

Saturday, September 8
Breakfast, 8:30 - 9:00
Session 4, 9:00 - 10:00
Luigi Butera (Copenhagen Business School): The Welfare Effects of Social Recognition: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment with the YMCA

Dominik Duell (Essex): Social identity and Beliefs about Risk Preferences of Others

Many of our decisions involve an assessment of how much risk others are willing to take. Extensive research on social identity suggests that it is likely that when individuals encounter somebody who shares a group identity with them, they make inferences about that person's attitudes that typically assume greater similarity to their own attitudes. Little is known, however, about whether similar attributions take place with respect to risk attitudes. This study sets out to evaluate whether individual decision makers are more likely to believe that they share an attitude towards risk that is more similar to the attitude of other individuals in the same social group than to that of individuals in a different group. If yes, then this would help account for the vast evidence of behavioral choices that are contingent on whether individuals share social identity, including in settings with identity-based social and economic discrimination.

Session 5, 10:15 - 11:15
Damien Bol (King's College London): What is people's favorite electoral rule behind the veil of Ignorance? A lab experiment

The literature shows that parties and voters tend to favor the electoral rule that best serves their interest. When an electoral reform is on the political agenda of their country, they support a change if they expect that the new rule would increase their chances to be elected (for parties) or to see their preferred party being elected (for voters). In this paper, we give new insights to this topic in analyzing data from a voting experiment in France and Great Britain. In the first phase, participants experience elections under plurality and approval voting. In the second phase, they decide which of these two rules they want to use for extra elections. The treatment is whether they know their spatial position, and hence which electoral rule maximize their payoff, before choosing the rule in the second phase. Participants favor the electoral rule that best serves their interest when they know their position, and favor the electoral rule most in line with their own values when they are behind the veil of ignorance.

Michalis Drouvelis (Birmingham): Freedom of choice and generosity

Keynote Speech, 11:30 - 12:30
Guillaume Frechette (NYU)

Lunch, 12:30 - 14:00