Professor

Recent NEWS:

June 2020: Our novel work looking at the role of sleep deprivation in generating market bubbles and asset volatility is now out in Experimental Economics. [Download PDF].

Traders in global markets operate at different local times-of-day. This implies heterogeneity in circadian timing and likely sleepiness or alertness of those traders operating at less or more optimal times of the day, respectively. This, in turn, may lead to differences in both individual-level trader behavior as well as market level outcomes. We show that Individual traders at sub-optimal times of day (or, “circadian mismatched” traders) engaged in riskier trading strategies, such as holding shares (the riskier asset) in later trading rounds and mispricing shares to a greater degree. These strategies resulted in lower earnings for those traders. Markets with higher circadian mismatch heterogeneity across traders were more likely to exhibit longer lasting asset bubbles and greater share turnover volume.

June 2020: Claessens, S., Chaudhuri, A., Sibley, C. and Atkinson, Q (2020) “Evolutionary Approach to Political Psychology”, forthcoming in Osbourne, D. and Sibley C. (Eds.), Handbook of Political Psychology, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. (Details to come).

March 2020: Claessens, S., Fischer, K., Chaudhuri, A., Sibley, C. and Atkinson, Q. (2020). Dual Evolutionary Foundations of Political Ideology. Nature Human Behavior, 4, 336–345 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0850-9. This is a paper coming out of our project on political ideology and economic experiments, which was recently published in Nature Human Behaviour.

October 2019: I will be Visiting Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School during the early part of 2020. I will teach Behavioural Decision Making in the Management, Leadership and Decision-Making (MLD) area.

April 2018: I have been appointed to the Economics and Human Behavioural Sciences (EHB) Panel of the Royal Society of NZ Marsden Fund.

September 2017:On the long-run efficacy of punishments and recommendations in a laboratory public goods game, published in Nature Scientific Reports..

We use decision-making experiments with human participants to study cooperation in a laboratory public goods game. Such games pose a conflict between cooperating, which is socially optimal and freeriding, which promotes individual self-interest. Prior research emphasizes the need for de-centralized peer-to-peer punishments as an evolutionarily stable response to the problem of free-riding, especially where interactions occur over long horizons. We show that a simple exhortative message appealing to participants’ goodwill can achieve high rates of cooperation in social dilemmas played over many rounds, even in the absence of punishments for free-riding.

September 2017:Pay cuts and layoffs in an experimental minimum effort coordination game, published in Economics Bulletin.

It is well-documented that during recessions, businesses prefer to lay off workers rather than implement across the board pay cuts. We examine the impact of pay cuts versus layoffs on intra-organization coordination, which is a fundamental problem facing firms involved in team production, by looking at behavior in the minimum effort coordination game following an intervention. Our results suggest that, contrary to received wisdom, both pay cuts and layoffs foster better coordination success. In particular, we do not find that pay cuts are detrimental to intra-organization coordination.

August 2017:Piece-rates and tournaments: Implications for learning in a cognitively challenging task, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Volume 142, October 2017, 11-23.

There is a large literature that explores the equivalence of piece-rates and tournaments in terms of effort exerted in real-effort task. But none of these previous studies explore which payment scheme fosters better learning in tasks that are cognitively challenging and complex. We show that tournament type payoff schemes lead to better learning in a cognitively challenging task and it is the all-or-nothing payoff structure in tournaments that drives such learning. We also find interesting differences in the learning patterns of those who are adept at the task to start with and those who are not. Those who are adept learn quickly under a tournament payment scheme. This is a novel paper and the results have significant implications for designing incentive schemes and for productivity and learning in the work-place.

February 2017: In Belief heterogeneity and contributions decay among conditional cooperators in public goods games” in the Journal of Economic Psychology, Vol. 58, February 2017, 15-30, I (with co-authors Tirnud Paichayontvijit and Alex Smith) revisit the issue of decaying cooperation in finitely repeated public goods games. We show contributions may decline even with a majority of conditional cooperators, as long as there is sufficient heterogeneity in their prior beliefs; those with optimistic priors about their peers will contribute a lot, while those with pessimistic priors will contribute little. This mismatch in prior beliefs can also lead to the oft-seen pattern of decaying cooperation.

December 2016: In What’s in a Frame? Goal framing, trust and reciprocity” in the Journal of Economic Psychology, Vol. 57, December 2016, 117-135, we look at the extent to which behavior in the Berg et al. (1995) trust game is sensitive to the way the instructions are framed. We show that levels of trust, reciprocity and returns to trust are significantly higher under “goal framing”, which highlights the conflict inherent in the game, between self-interest and maximizing social surplus.

July 2016: New edited book Recent Advances in Experimental Studies of Social Dilemma Games published by MDPI. This is a collection of articles by leading scholars in the area, first published in a Special Issue of GAMES..

June 2016: I followed up my earlier work on corruption in a paper The Role of Framing, Inequity and History in a Corruption Game: Some Experimental Evidence published in GAMES, 7, June 2016.