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70-386 Behavioral Decision Making. Lecture 17: WEIRD Subjects. Paper Presentation. Administrative. Tuesday: Nudges and policy issues (policy ≠ political) Final Exam Thursday FCEs Currently 8/13 of you responded.

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70 386 behavioral decision making

70-386Behavioral Decision Making

Lecture 17: WEIRD Subjects


  • Tuesday: Nudges and policy issues (policy ≠ political)

  • Final Exam Thursday

  • FCEs

    • Currently 8/13 of you responded.

    • If 11/13 respond by the beginning of class on Tuesday, I’ll post one of the exam’s essay questions by Tuesday night, for you to think about before the exam.

Last time
Last Time

  • Simultaneous move games

    • “prisoner’s dilemma”

    • Common interest coordination games

      • And some less common interest

    • Signaling

So what
So what?

  • Are these behaviors “biases”?

  • No… not in the same way as Heuristics and Biases.

    • Not so much System 1 vs System 2 with these results.

    • There are biases at play – like in negotiation exercises, etc.

  • Maybe it’s just different preferences.

    • People prefer “fairer” allocations.

Experiments and randomization
Experiments and Randomization

Standard inference using experiments requires a few things but two in particular:

  • Random assignment to treatment

  • A representative population

    Point (1) is what is normally the focus of discussion, since it’s often hard to do.

    But (2) is often a big limitation that no one talks about.







Yes, I’m weird. (as if there was really a question…)

Almost everything we know about social science is based on WEIRD subjects.

  • And mostly WEIRD subjects between the ages of 18-22! Who are disproportionately likely to student a social science topic.

  • What happened to Random Sampling?!

Subject pools
Subject pools

Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan (2010) presents a meta study on many of the findings we’ve discussed

  • From 2003-2007, 96% of subjects in the studies published in top Psych journals were from Western countries. (Arnett 2008)

  • 2/3’s of American samples used in articles in JPSP were composed of solely undergraduates

    • American undergrad 4000 times more likely to be a research participant than a person outside the West.

Does it matter
Does it matter?

  • Maybe?

  • Most say NO.

    • The skeptic in me says they have a strong incentive to say “NO”

    • But honestly we really don’t know because there have been few replications in non-WEIRD societies.

  • The bigger problem is that we don’t have much of a theoretical basis to predict differences (at least in econ and psych)

An example
An example

  • Interesting experiments running the Ultimatum and Dictator Games in small, tribal, communities:

  • Dictator Game:

An example1
An example

  • Ultimatum Game, offers:

An example2
An example

  • Ultimatum Game, acceptance rates:

  • Even some evidence of rejecting “more than fair” offers (>80% of pie)

Not just games
Not Just Games

  • Fundamental Attribution Error

    • Might not be so “fundamental:”

      • Americans attend to dispositions at the expense of situations (Gilbert & Malone 1995)

      • East Asians more likely to infer that behaviors are strongly controlled by the situation

  • Any others that we’ve discussed in that class that might be different?

  • Would there be a difference if we ran the experiments on Education City vs Qatar University?

So does it make a difference
So does it make a difference?

  • Maybe?

  • Again, the problem is that we don’t have much of a theoretical basis to predict differences

    • What’s the mechanism?

      • Left to Right search vs Right to Left is well defined.

      • Is the group different than that one, isn’t well defined. How is it different? Why?