- Listen to the Sirens
- Understanding psychological mechanisms with theory and experimental tests
- Award date
- 12 October 2018
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)
Behavioral economics is a blooming field at the intersection of economics, psychology, and biology in which we investigate the psychological mechanisms that make humans behave the way they do and ask to what degree and by what criteria we can find reason in their behavior. This thesis contributes to a larger research program within the discipline that aims to systematically extend the mathematical theory of individual and strategic decision making lying at the core of neoclassical microeconomics – as well as the related experimental and empirical literature – in order to account for a richer set of motivations and decision processes.
Chapter I presents an experimental comparison of psychological mechanisms in the context of choice shifts in group decisions. Choice shifts occur when individuals advocate a risky (safe) decision when acting as part of a group even though they prefer a safe (risky) decision when acting as individuals.
Chapter II uses evolutionary game theory to zoom in on the cognitive underpinnings of cooperation-enhancing behaviors. Building on experimental and theoretical results from the social heuristics literature, we develop a general model of fast (intuitive) and slow (deliberative) cooperation.
Chapter III investigates the foundations of psychological game theory. Psychological game theory is a powerful mathematical framework in which emotions and belief-dependent motivations can be given a mathematically precise representation. In the chapter, we systematically extend common belief in rationality (aka correlated rationalizability) to psychological games.
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