Coordinating donations via an intermediary: The destructive effect of a sunk overhead cost

by Diya Abraham, Tommaso Reggiani, Miloš Fišar together with Luca Corazzini

in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2023. DOI:


Donors often use the services of an intermediary to prevent their donations from being too thinly distributed over multiple public projects. We explore whether donors’ willingness to coordinate their funds via an intermediary depends on the extent of the intermediary’s discretion over their contributions, as well as the organizational overhead costs incurred by the intermediary. We investigate this using a laboratory experiment in which donors face multiple identical threshold public goods and the opportunity to coordinate their contributions via another donor assigned to the role of intermediary. In line with standard game theoretic predictions, we find that donors make use of the intermediary only when they know she is heavily restricted in terms of the proportion of their contributions she can expropriate for herself. However, we find strong evidence that the positive effect of these restrictions is undone once the intermediary incurs a sunk overhead cost. Our analysis suggests that the ex-ante inequality created as a result of this sunk cost reduces the trustworthiness of the intermediary in the donors’ eyes, which in turn reduces the donors’ willingness to use the intermediary to coordinate their contributions effectively.


    Designing Donation Incentive Contracts for Online Gig Workers

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Rainer Michael Rilke

    in Journal of Business Ethics, 2023. DOI:


    This study examines the effects of donation incentives on labor supply in an online labor market through a field experiment (n = 944). We manipulate the donation purpose of the incentive to be either unifying or polarizing and the size of the donation relative to the workers’ wage. Our experimental design allows us to observe the decision to accept a job (extensive margin) and different dimensions of productivity (intensive margin). We predict and show that a unifying donation purpose attracts more gig workers and improves their productivity compared to a polarizing donation purpose. We discuss the implications of these results in order to understand the role of donation incentives and labor supply in online labor markets.

    Minimum wage and tolerance for high incomes

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Andrea Fazio

    in European Economic Review, 2023. DOI:


    We suggest that stabilizing the baseline income can make low-wage workers more tolerant towards high income earners. We present evidence of this attitude in the UK by exploiting the introduction of the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which institutionally sets a baseline pay reducing the risk of income losses and providing a clear reference point for British workers at the lower end of the income distribution. Based on data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), we show that workers who benefited from the NMW program became relatively more tolerant of high incomes and more likely to support and vote for the Conservative Party. As far as tolerance for high incomes is related to tolerance of inequality, our results may suggest that people advocate for equality also because they fear income losses below a given reference point.

    Social media charity campaigns and pro-social behaviour. Evidence from the Ice Bucket Challenge

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Andrea Fazio, Francesco Scervini

    in Journal of Economic Psychology, 2023. DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2023.102624


    Social media use plays an important role in shaping individuals’ social attitudes and economic behaviours. One of the first well-known examples of social media campaigns is the Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC), a charity campaign that went viral on social media networks in August 2014, aiming to collect money for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We rely on UK longitudinal data to investigate the causal impact of the Ice Bucket Challenge on pro-social behaviours. In detail, this study shows that having been exposed to the IBC increases the probability of donating money, and it also increases the amount of money donated among those who donate at most £100. We also find that exposure to the IBC has increased the probability of volunteering and the level of interpersonal trust. However, all these results, except for the result on the intensive margins of donations, are of short duration and are limited to less than one year. This supports the prevalent consensus that social media campaigns may have only short-term effects.

    The evaluation of personnel selection methods by HR practitioners: The effect of reference and its interaction with information about validity

    by Jakub Procházka together with Jakub Nováček, Martin Vaculík

    in International Journal of Human Resource Management, 2023. DOI: 10.1080/09585192.2022.2117563


    This study is an experiment that examines the effects of positive reference, information about predictive validity, and their interaction on how HR professionals evaluate selection methods. It contributes to understanding why HR practitioners use personnel selection methods that are considered to have low predictive validity. A sample of 173 HR professionals from the Czech Republic was asked to evaluate six selection methods that could be used to select a project manager for a telecommunications company. Each participant was randomly assigned to two experimental conditions as the selection methods were presented together with/without positive reference and with/without information about their predictive validity. The results of repeated measures ANOVAs with two between-subjects factors, one within-subject factor, and their interactions showed that information about predictive validity did not significantly influence how HR professionals evaluated selection methods. The analyses also did not support the effect of positive reference on the evaluation of methods with low validity. In contrast, the analyses provided support for the effect of positive reference on the evaluation of selection methods with high predictive validity. The interaction of reference and information about validity had no significant effect on the evaluation of selection methods by HR professionals.

    Social capital and mobility: An experimental study

    by Ondřej Krčál, Štěpán Mikula and Rostislav Staněk

    in SAGE Journals, 2023. DOI: 10.1177/10434631221134176


    Theoretical models of local social capital predict that communities may find themselves in one of two equilibria: one with a high level of local social capital and low migration or one with a low level of local social capital and high migration. There is empirical literature suggesting that immigrants who join communities high in social capital are more likely to invest in local social capital and that the whole community will then end up in the equilibrium with high local social capital and low migration. However, this literature suffers from the selection of immigrants, which makes the identification challenging. In order to test the causal influence of the initial level of local social capital, we take the setup used in the theoretical models into the laboratory. We treat some communities by increasing the initial level of social capital without affecting the equilibrium outcomes. We find that while most communities end up in one of the two equilibria predicted by the theoretical models, the treated communities are more likely to converge to the equilibrium with a high level of local social capital and low migration.

    On the Internet you can be anyone: An experiment on strategic avatar choice in online marketplaces

    by Diya Abraham, Ben Greiner and Marianne Stephanides

    in Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2023. DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2022.11.033


    In order to decrease social distance and increase trust on their platforms, many online marketplaces allow traders to be represented by profile pictures or avatars. In a laboratory experiment, we investigate whether the presence of seller avatars affects trading behavior in a market. We contrast markets without avatars with markets where avatars genuinely represent traders and markets where avatars can be freely changed at any time and may thus be chosen strategically. At the aggregate level, we find that the presence of genuine avatars increases the trustworthiness of sellers, but that this effect is undone when avatars can be chosen strategically. We do not detect aggregate effects on buyers’ trusting choices. Female avatars are more trusted, and correspondingly in the treatment with free avatar choice men are more likely to represent themselves with a female avatar than vice versa.

    Pain as Social Glue: A Preregistered Direct Replication of Experiment 2 of Bastian et al. (2014)

    by Jakub Procházka together with Katarína Pariľaková, Patrik Rudolf, Vojtěch Bruk, Rút Jungwirthová, Sára Fejtová, Radomír Masaryk, and Martin Vaculík

    in Psychological Science, 2022. DOI: 10.1177/09567976211040745


    Bastian et al. (2014) found that sharing a painful experience promoted later intergroup cooperation. In Bastian et al.’s second experiment, 62 participants were assigned to groups of two to six people each. They performed either two painful or two painless tasks and then played an economic game. The present study consisted of two replications of the experiment: The first was a nonpreregistered pilot study (N = 153 students from the Czech Republic), and the second was a preregistered direct replication (N = 158 students from Slovakia). Important deviations from the original procedure were that (a) gender homogeneity of the small groups was balanced across the conditions and (b) the number of participants in each small group was fixed at three. No relevant effect of shared pain on cooperation emerged. The findings indicate that the true effect of shared pain on cooperation obtained in the original study may have been an overestimate or that the effect is not generally valid across various contexts.

    Reflection and Reasoning in Moral Judgment: Two Preregistered Replications of Paxton, Ungar, and Greene (2012)

    by Jakub Procházka together with Jonáš Herec, Jaroslav Sýkora, Kamil Brahmi, David Vondráček, Oldřiška Dobešová, Martin Smělík, and Martin Vaculík

    in Cognitive Science, 2022. DOI: 10.1111/cogs.13168


    This study consists of two preregistered systematic replications of an experiment on reflection and reasoning in moral judgment by Paxton, Ungar, and Greene (2012). Czech students read a scenario involving incest between consenting adult siblings and an argument supporting the moral acceptability of the behavior. We manipulated the factors of argument strength (strong vs. weak) and the time that participants had to reflect on the argument (no time vs. 2 min). In the first replication (n = 347), neither the manipulated factors nor their interaction influenced how participants rated the moral acceptability of the incestuous behavior. The only significant predictor in the second replication (n = 717) was argument strength but with a very small effect. The effect of argument strength did not differ across groups either with or without deliberation time. Therefore, neither of the studies replicated the effect that deliberation time moderates the influence of argument strength on moral judgment, even though the samples were considerably larger than in the original study. We thus conclude that the effect of the interaction between the strength of an argument and deliberation time on moral judgment either does not exist or is moderated by certain contextual or sample characteristics.

    The effect of font readability on the Moses illusion: A replication study

    by Jakub Procházka together with Adéla Janoušková, Jakub Kocyan, Magdaléna Šímová, Kamila Uvírová, Kamila Zahradníčková, and Martin Vaculík 

    in Consciousness and Cognition, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2022.103284


    This research is a replication study that sought to verify whether the readability of a font has an effect on the Moses illusion detection. It was designed to stimulate information retrieval from memory and confuse retrieval with a text’s erroneous wording. Undergraduates aged 19–30 (N = 87, 80% women) were presented with two questions, one of which contained distorted infor- mation. We assumed that a difficult-to-read font would facilitate error detection, as it increases the focus of attention on the text. However, unlike the original study, we were unable to find support for this hypothesis, as font readability did not significantly affect error detection. In the difficult-to-read condition, 43% of participants reported an error, while, in the easy-to-read condition, errors were detected by 37% of the participants. Unlike the original study, our research results do not support the hypothesis that the visual presentation of a text affects the automatic retrieval of information from memory. This study clarifies the effect of text readability on error detection taking into consideration the role of long-term memory and visual perception.

    Does gender moderate the influence of emotions on risk-taking? The meta-analysis reloaded

    by Matteo M. Marini

    in Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbef.2022.100700


    This paper is a follow-up investigation to the aggregate data meta-analysis by Marini (2022), the latter being designed to detect what study characteristics moderate the effect of emotions on risk preferences. Our work purports to strengthen the findings of Marini (2022) by taking into account gender as a moderator, as well as to extend the analysis along the dimension of country-level individualism. These goals are pursued by pooling individual participant data from the subset of studies that make use of multiple price lists as risk elicitation method. We find that gender does not moderate the influence of emotions on risk propensity and subjects take greater risks when studies are conducted in individualist countries, supporting the evidence of a positive link between individualism and risk-seeking even with respect to participants experiencing no emotion.

    The political cost of sanctions: Evidence from COVID-19

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Andrea Fazio and Fabio Sabatini

    in Health policy, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2022.06.008


    We use survey data to study how trust in government and consensus for the pandemic policy response vary with the propensity for altruistic punishment in Italy, the early epicenter of the pandemic. Approval for the management of the crisis decreases with the size of the penalties that individuals would like to see enforced for lockdown violations. People supporting stronger punishment are more likely to consider the government’s reaction to the pandemic as insufficient. However, after the establishment of tougher sanctions for risky behaviors, we observe a sudden flip in support for the government. Higher amounts of the desired fines become associated with a higher probability of considering the COVID policy response as too extreme, lower trust in government, and lower confidence in the truthfulness of the officially provided information. These results suggest that lockdowns entail a political cost that helps explain why democracies may adopt epidemiologically suboptimal policies.

    Advertising cooperative phenotype through costly signals facilitates collective action

    by Rostislav Staněk, Martin Lang, Radim Chvaja, Benjamin Grant Purzycki and David Václavík

    in Royal Society Open Science, 2022. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.202202


    Around the world, people engage in practices that involve self-inflicted pain and apparently wasted resources. Researchers theorized that these practices help stabilize within-group cooperation by assorting individuals committed to collective action. While this proposition was previously studied using existing religious practices, we provide a controlled framework for an experimental investigation of various predictions derived from this theory. We recruited 372 university students in the Czech Republic who were randomly assigned into either a high-cost or low-cost condition and then chose to play a public goods game (PGG) either in a group that wastes money to signal commitment to high contributions in the game or to play in the group without such signals. We predicted that cooperators would assort in the high-cost revealed group and that, despite these costs, they would contribute more to the common pool and earn larger individual rewards over five iterations of PGG compared with the concealed group and participants in the low-cost condition. The results showed that the assortment of cooperators was more effective in the high-cost condition and translated into larger contributions of the remaining endowment to the common pool, but participants in the low-cost revealed group earned the most. We conclude that costly signals can serve as an imperfect assorting mechanism, but the size of the costs needs to be carefully balanced with potential benefits to be profitable.

    Residential-Based Discrimination in the Labor Market

    by Štěpán Mikula and Tommaso Reggiani

    in The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2022. DOI: 10.1515/bejeap-2021-0331


    Through a correspondence study, this paper investigates whether employers discriminate job applicants based on their living conditions. Exploiting the natural setting provided by a Rapid Re-housing Program, we sent 1347 job applications for low-qualified front-desk jobs in Brno, Czech Republic. The resumes exogenously differed in only one main aspect represented by the address of the applicants, signaling both the quality of the neighborhood and the quality of the housing conditions in which they were living. We found that while the higher quality of the district has a strong effect in increasing the hiring chances (+20%) the actual improvement of the living conditions standards, per se, does not generate any significant positive effect.

    Broadband Internet and social capital

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Andrea Geraci Mattia Nardotto Fabio Sabatinid

    in Journal of Public Economics, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2021.104578


    We study the impact of broadband penetration on social capital in the UK. Our empirical strategy exploits a technological feature of the telecommunication infrastructure that generated substantial variation in the quality of Internet access across households. The speed of a domestic connection rapidly decays with the distance of a user’s line from the network’s node serving the area. Merging information on the topology of the network with geocoded longitudinal data about individual social capital from 1997 to 2017, we show that access to fast Internet caused a significant decline in civic and political engagement. Overall, our results suggest that broadband penetration crowded out several dimensions of social capital.

    Can the color red trick you into drinking less? A replication study

    by Jakub Procházka together with Barbora Doležalová, Natalie Hubáčková, Kamila Látalová, Eliška Výborová, Markéta Žáková, and Martin Vaculík 

    in Appetite, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105619


    This replication of the study of Genschow et al. (2012) examines the effect of the color red on beverage con- sumption. In total, 148 men were asked to consume drinks in either red- or blue-labeled cups. Cup labels were assigned at random. Unlike in the previous study, the findings in our replication study did not provide empirical support for the hypothesis that people will drink less from red-labeled cups than blue-labeled cups. The differ- ence between groups in drink consumption was non-significant. Thus, the red color did not have an inhibitory effect on drink intake.

    Lab-Sophistication: Does Repeated Participation in Laboratory Experiments Affect Pro-Social Behaviour?


    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Tiziana Medda, and Vittorio Pelligra

    in Games, 2021. DOI: 10.3390/g12010018


    Experimental social scientists working at research-intensive institutions deal inevitably with subjects who have most likely participated in previous experiments. It is an important methodological question to know whether participants that have acquired a high level of lab-sophistication show altered pro-social behavioural patterns. In this paper, we focus both on the potential effect of the subjects’ lab-sophistication, and on the role of the knowledge about the level of lab-sophistication of the other participants. Our main findings show that while lab-sophistication per se does not significantly affect pro-social behaviour, for sophisticated subjects the knowledge about the counterpart’s level of (un)sophistication may systematically alter their choices. This result should induce caution among experimenters about whether, in their settings, information about lab-sophistication can be inferred by the participants, due to the characteristics of the recruitment mechanisms, the management of the experimental sessions or to other contextual clues.

    A field experiment on dishonesty: A registered replication of Azar et al. (2013)

    by Jakub Procházka together with Yulia Fedoseevab and Petr Houdek

    in Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2020.101617


    This study is a registered replication of a field experiment on dishonesty by Azar et al. (2013). Their main finding was that most customers of an Israeli restaurant did not return excessive change; however, customers who received a higher amount of excessive change returned it more often than people who received a lower amount. Our study, which was conducted on a sample of customers of restaurants in the Czech Republic (N=219), replicated the results of the original study. The high excessive change condition increased the chance of re- turning the excess change by 21.7 percentage points (17.4 percentage points in the original study). The findings show that the psychological costs of dishonesty can outweigh its financial benefits. We similarly found that repeat customers and women were more likely to return the excessive change than one-time customers and men. The majority (70%) of customers in our sample returned the excessive change. We discuss the importance of field studies and replications of them in the further development of research into dishonest behavior.

    Responding to (un)reasonable requests by an authority

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Vittorio Pelligra, and Daniel Zizzo

    in Theory and Decision, 2020. DOI: 10.1007/s11238-020-09758-0 


    We consider the notions of static and dynamic reasonableness of requests by an authority in a trust game experiment. The authority, modeled as the experimenter, systematically varies the experimental norm of what is expected from trustees to return to trustors, both in terms of the level of each request and in terms of the sequence of the requests. Static reasonableness matters in a self-biased way, in the sense that low requests justify returning less, but high requests tend to be ignored. Dynamic reasonableness also matters, in the sense that, if requests keep increasing, trustees return less compared to the same requests presented in random or decreasing order. Requests never systematically increase trustworthiness but may decrease it.

    Sandwich feedback: The empirical evidence of its effectiveness

    by Michal Ďuriník together with Jakub Procházka, and Martin Ovcari

    in Learning and motivation, 2020, vol. 71. DOI: 10.1016/j.lmot.2020.101649


    This experiment tests the effectiveness of “sandwich” feedback. 91 university students solved 12 mathematical problems from the secondary-school curriculum. After the time limit, we assigned them randomly to one of three possible treatments. One group received corrective computer-administrated feedback, describing the mistakes with their methods and solutions. The second group received sandwich feedback, consisting of the same corrective part presented between two general positive statements unrelated to the participants’ actual performance. The third group did not receive any feedback. Afterwards, the participants had 10 min to prepare for the second set of similar problems. Participants who received sandwich feedback utilized more time on preparation and solved more problems from the second set than the participants from the other two groups. This study provides only partial evidence for the effectiveness of sandwich feedbacks as it tested the effect under one specific condition using computer-mediated written feedback on math test. Further replications are needed to test the effect under various conditions, to test various forms of sandwich feedback, to explain the mechanism of sandwich feedback and to show whether the effect of sandwich feedback is caused by the specific sequence of feedback components or by mere presence of positive statements.

    Delegation and coordination with multiple threshold public goods: experimental evidence

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Luca Corazzini and Christopher Cotton

    in Experimental economics, 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s10683-019-09639-6


    When multiple charities, social programs and community projects simultaneously vie for funding, donors risk mis-coordinating their contributions leading to an inefficient distribution of funding across projects. Community chests and other intermediary organizations facilitate coordination among donors and reduce such risks. To study this, we extend a threshold public goods framework to allow donors to contribute through an intermediary rather than directly to the public goods. Through a series of experiments, we show that the presence of an intermediary increases public good success and subjects’ earnings only when the intermediary is formally committed to direct donations to socially beneficial goods. Without such a restriction, the presence of an intermediary has a negative impact, complicating the donation environment, decreasing contributions and public good success.

    Civility and trust in social media

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Angelo Antoci, Laura Bonelli, Fabio Paglieri, and Fabio Sabatini

    in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 2019, vol. 160. DOI:10.1016/j.jebo.2019.02.026


    Social media have been credited with the potential of reinvigorating trust by offering new opportunities for social and political participation. This view has been recently challenged by the rising phenomenon of online incivility, which has made the environment of social networking sites hostile to many users. We conduct a novel experiment in a Facebook setting to study how the effect of social media on trust varies depending on the civility or incivility of online interaction. We find that participants exposed to civil Facebook interaction are significantly more trusting. In contrast, when the use of Facebook is accompanied by the experience of online incivility, no significant changes occur in users’ behavior. These results are robust to alternative configurations of the treatments.

    The Pied Piper: Prizes, Incentives, and Motivation Crowding-in

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Luigino Bruni, Vittorio Pelligra, and Matteo Rizzolli

    in Journal of Business Ethics. 2019, vol. 156. DOI:10.1007/s10551-019-04154-3



    In mainstream business and economics, prizes such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom are understood as special types of incentives, with the peculiar features of being awarded in public, and of having largely symbolic value. Informed by both historical considerations and philosophical instances, our study defines fundamental theoretical differences between incentives and prizes. The conceptual factors highlighted by our analytical framework are then tested through a laboratory experiment. The experimental exercise aims to analyze how prizes and incentives impact actual individuals’ behavior differently. Our results show that both incentives (monetary and contingent) and prizes (non-monetary and discretional rewards) boost motivation to perform if awarded publicly, but only prizes crowd-in motivation promoting virtuous attitude.

    Determinants of Decision-making on the Mitigation of Global Environmental Issues in the Context of Subjective Rationality

    by Jiří Špalek together with Jan Říkovský

    in Fresenius Environmental Bulletin. 2019, vol. 28, no. 1.



    The poverty in developing countries of the world represents a global environmental issue under Millennium Development Goals. One of the ways how to mitigate this global environmental problem ise humanitarian response. But, there is a considera- ble knowledge gap in environmental scientific liter- ature concerning the application of humanitarian aid as a support tool for addressing of it. This paper deals with application of the economic experiment method in an analysis of determinants of decision-making on the mitigation of global environmental issues using humanitarian aid in the context of subjective ration- ality. The methods in this study are based on experi- ment drawing on mathematical economic models supporting by statistical analyses. This methodolog- ical approach offers the opportunity for selfish be- haviour in accordance with the game theory, thus al- lowing us to compare reality with traditional as- sumptions. Selected assumptions are transformed into hypotheses whose validity is consistent with the approach and conclusions of the presented study. The conducted experiment confirmed all the tested hypotheses and many other hypotheses could be ver- ified by other experiments of a different design. The environmental discourse concerning human deci- sion-making has long been dominated by the concept of people as strictly rational beings motivated only by profit (e.g. in the form of drawing ecosystem ser- vices) and perfectly capable of analysing all the con- sequences of their decisions. Although the growing influence of behavioural economics has facilitated the explanation of some kinds of observed behav- iours, the umbrella term “subjective rationality” suf- fers due to its general broadness. The presented study is striving to find a way of synthesising the currently used sophisticated analytical methods with the be- havioural perspective on decision-making on the mitigation of global environmental issues.

    Time preferences, cognitive abilities and intrinsic motivation to exert effort

    by Rostislav Staněk, and Ondřej Krčál

    in Applied Economics Letters. 2019, vol. issue 12. DOI:10.1080/13504851.2018.1529387



    The experimental literature has found a positive relationship between patience and performance in cognitive tests that are not incentivized by money. It has also been shown that unincentivized cognitive tests capture not only cognitive ability (CA), but also intrinsic motivation related to the test takers’ personality traits. In order to determine whether the relationship between patience and test scores is driven by intrinsic motivation or CA, we run an experiment in which subjects take either incentivized or unincentivized cognitive tests. We find that while incentivized test scores positively correlate with patience, the unincentivized scores are not related to the time preferences of our subjects. The observed correlation between patience and cognitive test scores therefore seems to be driven by CA rather than by intrinsic motivation related to personality traits.

    Social decision-making in the brain: Input-state-output modelling reveals patterns of effective connectivity underlying reciprocal choices

    by Rostislav Staněk, and Jiří Špalek together with Daniel Shaw, Kristína Czekóová, Martin Gajdoš, and Michal Brázdil

    in Human Brain Mapping. 2019, vol. 40, issue 2. DOI:10.1002/hbm.24446



    During social interactions, decision‐making involves mutual reciprocity—each individual's choices are simultaneously a consequence of, and antecedent to those of their interaction partner. Neuroeconomic research has begun to unveil the brain networks underpinning social decision‐making, but we know little about the patterns of neural connectivity within them that give rise to reciprocal choices. To investigate this, the present study measured the behaviour and brain function of pairs of individuals (N = 66) whilst they played multiple rounds of economic exchange comprising an iterated ultimatum game. During these exchanges, both players could attempt to maximise their overall monetary gain by reciprocating their opponent's prior behaviour—they could promote generosity by rewarding it, and/or discourage unfair play through retaliation. By adapting a model of reciprocity from experimental economics, we show that players' choices on each exchange are captured accurately by estimating their expected utility (EU) as a reciprocal reaction to their opponent's prior behaviour. We then demonstrate neural responses that map onto these reciprocal choices in two brain regions implicated in social decision‐making: right anterior insula (AI) and anterior/anterior‐mid cingulate cortex (aMCC). Finally, with behavioural Dynamic Causal Modelling, we identified player‐specific patterns of effective connectivity between these brain regions with which we estimated each player's choices with over 70% accuracy; namely, bidirectional connections between AI and aMCC that are modulated differentially by estimates of EU from our reciprocity model. This input‐state‐output modelling procedure therefore reveals systematic brain–behaviour relationships associated with the reciprocal choices characterising interactive social decision‐making.

    Differences in facial affect recognition between non-offending and offending drivers

    by Jan Řezáč together with Martina Trepáčová, Pavel Řezáč, Veronika Kurečková, Petr Zámečníka, and Lenka Kopečková

    in Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour. 2019, vol. 60. DOI:10.1016/j.trf.2018.11.009


    It is assumed that emotion recognition is a complex process related to prosocial and antisocial behaviour (Marsh & Blair, 2008). The present study focuses on the connection between recognizing emotions and safe/unsafe driving. We studied whether there are differences in response time in facial emotion recognition. Fifty-one non-offenders and 41 offenders completed a Pictures of Facial Affect test (Ekman & Friesen, 1976) wherein photographs of prototypical facial emotional expressions were presented. Results show differences between the groups in response time to all emotions whether answers were correct or incorrect. Data show that non-offenders are faster in recognizing emotions than are offenders. These findings demonstrate that offenders exhibit specific deficits in response time for facial affect expressions.

    The Short Maximization Inventory

    by Michal Ďuriník together with Jakub Procházka, and Hynek Cígler

    in Judgment & Decision Making. 2018, vol. 13(1). 



    We developed the Short Maximization Inventory (SMI) by shortening the Maximization Inventory (Turner, Rim, Betz & Nygren, 2012) from 34 items to 15 items. Using the Item Response Theory framework, we identified and removed the items of the Maximization Inventory that contributed least to the performance of the original scale. The construct validity assessed for SMI is similar to the full MI and is in line with the predictions from the literature: the Satisficing subscale is positively related to the indices of well-being, while the Decision Difficulty and Alternative Search subscales are negatively related to well-being. The new scale retains the good psychometric properties of the original scale. Furthermore, its brevity allows researchers to use the scale in studies in which maximization is not the primary focus. Although the SMI lacks the “High Standards” subscale, as did the original MI, we believe that SMI is a step towards developing a reliable and conceptually sound measure of maximizing that can be used in various research designs.

    A dual-fMRI investigation of the iterated Ultimatum Game reveals that reciprocal behaviour is associated with neural alignment

    by Rostislav Staněk, Jiří Špalek, and Jan Řezáč together with Daniel Shaw, Kristína Czekóová, Radek Mareček, Lenka Kopečková, Tomáš Urbánek, and Michal Brázdil

    in Scientific reports. 2018, 8. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-29233-9.



    Dyadic interactions often involve a dynamic process of mutual reciprocity; to steer a series of exchanges towards a desired outcome, both interactants must adapt their own behaviour according to that of their interaction partner. Understanding the brain processes behind such bidirectional reciprocity is therefore central to social neuroscience, but this requires measurement of both individuals’ brains during real-world exchanges. We achieved this by performing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on pairs of male individuals simultaneously while they interacted in a modified iterated Ultimatum Game (iUG). In this modification, both players could express their intent and maximise their own monetary gain by reciprocating their partner’s behaviour – they could promote generosity through cooperation and/or discourage unfair play with retaliation. By developing a novel model of reciprocity adapted from behavioural economics, we then show that each player’s choices can be predicted accurately by estimating expected utility (EU) not only in terms of immediate payoff, but also as a reaction to their opponent’s prior behaviour. Finally, for the first time we reveal that brain signals implicated in social decision making are modulated by these estimates of EU, and become correlated more strongly between interacting players who reciprocate one another.

    Information, belief elicitation and threshold effects in the 5X1000 tax scheme: A framed field experiment

    by Tommaso Reggiani together with Leonardo Becchetti, Vittorio Pelligra

    in International Tax and Public Finance. 2017, 24: 1026. DOI:10.1007/s10797-017-9474-z



    In this paper, we study by means of a framed field experiment on a representative sample of the population the effect on people’s charitable giving of three, substantial and procedural, elements: information provision, belief elicitation and threshold on distribution. We frame this investigation within the 5X1000 tax scheme, a mechanism through which Italian taxpayers may choose to give a small proportion (0.5%) of their income tax to a voluntary organization to fund its activities. We find two main results: (i) providing information or eliciting beliefs about previous donations increases the likelihood of a donation, while thresholds have no effect; (ii) information about previous funding increases donations to organizations that received fewer donations in the past, while belief elicitation also increases donations to organizations that received most donations in the past, since individuals are more likely to donate to the organizations they rank first.

    Home bias in sport betting: Evidence from Czech betting market

    by Rostislav Staněk

    in Judgment and Decision Making. 2017, vol. 12, issue 2.



    In sport betting, bettors exhibit home bias when they tend to bet on their home team more often. The paper offers a straightforward method of empirical identification of the home bias in the real-world betting market. Using Czech betting data on the league and the national ice-hockey matches, the paper provides support for the existence of the home bias in the Czech betting market.

    Personal interest branding: Source of price premium

    by Michal Ďuriník together with Aneta Suchomelová and Jakub Procházka

    in Journal of International Consumer Marketing. 2017, vol. 29(1). DOI:10.1080/08961530.2016.1236309



    This study looks at whether and why people are prepared to pay more money for products that signalize their personal interests. The design is an intrasubject field experiment carried out using five, real, one-sided Internet auctions. The sample consists of 83 participants from the Czech Flamenco community. In the auction, they placed bids for five types of products—a branded bag, a white shopping bag, a mug, a white top, and a black T-shirt. These items appeared in the auction randomly in Flamenco (bearing visual reference to Flamenco culture) and non-Flamenco generic versions. In the case of the white shopping bag, the mug, and the tank top, the respondents were willing to pay almost double for the Flamenco version in comparison with the generic version. This was partly due to their greater emotional attachment to the Flamenco version of the product. The price difference for the branded bag and the black T-shirt was smaller and insignificant. This study opens up the theme of personal interest branding.

    External validity of prospect theory: The evidence from soccer betting

    by Ondřej Krčál, and Rostislav Staněk together with Michal Kvasnička

    in Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics. 2016, vol. 65. DOI:10.1016/j.socec.2016.07.005



    This paper tests whether the prospect theory parameters estimated from laboratory experiments correspond to estimates from real-life betting markets. Using Czech soccer betting data, we estimate the functional forms of the value and probability weighting functions commonly used for the experimental validation of prospect theory. In line with the experimental evidence, we find that bettors are risk averse in the domain of gains and risk seeking in the domain of losses and tend to overweight small probabilities and underweight medium and large probabilities. On the other hand, our findings suggest that bettors do not exhibit loss aversion. This might be at least partly explained by recent experimental evidence suggesting that loss aversion is weaker or absent if the decision-makers are experienced, if they face similar choices repeatedly, and if the decisions are made in a context where offers are usually accepted.

    Gender Differences in Beliefs and Actions in a Framed Corruption Experiment

    by Miloš Fišar, Jiří Špalek, James Tremewan together with Matúš Kubák

    in Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics. 2016, vol. 63. DOI:10.1016/j.socec.2016.05.004


    We elicit actions and beliefs in a framed corruption experiment enabling us to investigate how gender differences in corrupt behaviour relate to gender differences in both beliefs about the behaviour of others and the relationship between those beliefs and actions. We find that women are less likely to engage in costly punishment of corruption, and believe corruption to be more prevalent than men. Differences between the genders in the relationship between beliefs and actions provides evidence that men experience a greater psychological cost as a result of social sanctions. Controlling for beliefs and gender differences in sensitivity to beliefs we find that males are, in many instances, more likely to offer bribes, while females are less likely to conform to a norm of bribe-giving. This result was not apparent in the raw data, and highlights the importance of considering beliefs in corruption experiments.

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