BEE brings together a diverse set of teaching and research faculty at the School of Economics and Business with an interest in behavioral and experimental economics. As a group, we see behavior as central to economics and business, and welcome anyone whose work centers on behavior. The research done by members of BEE spans behavioral and experimental economics, consumer behavior and choice, economic valuation and stated choice experiments, development economics, how individuals act and interact in teams, and organizational sciences.
29.11.2023 - Group seminar HH - spdesign - is a free software package with an easy to use interface to create flexible stated preference experimental designs. Erlend Dancke Sandorf presents a free software package used to design stated preferences experiments.
Contemporary software commonly used to design stated preference experiments are expensive and the code is closed source. spdesign is a free software package with an easy to use interface to create flexible stated preference experimental designs using state-of-the-art methods.
The seminar will be a combination of a short introduction to stated preference experimental designs. What are they and why do we need them? Before a brief demonstration of how to create them using the R package spdesign.
Link to the software package with supplementary material: https://spdesign.edsandorf.me/
25.10.2023 - Group seminar HH - How WEIRD are student samples? Lessons based on the trust game in Malawi. Stein Holden presented the paper. This is joint work with Sarah Tione, Mesfin Tilahun, and Samson Katengeza.
We have used the standard trust game on a random sample of university students (N=764) and a random sample of rural residents (N=834) in Malawi. The study identifies social preference types (Fehr et al. 2013, Bauer et al 2014), and how these relate to variations in trust and trustworthiness. We have used the standard trust game on a random sample of university students (N=764) and a random sample of rural residents (N=834) in Malawi.
The study identifies social preference types (Fehr et al. 2013, Bauer et al 2014), and how these relate to variations in trust and trustworthiness. The games are framed as within-class and within-university for students and as within-village and within-district for the rural sample. Many previous studies of generosity and trust have found students to represent a lower bound in experimental studies of pro-social, trust, and trustworthiness behavior compared to broader population samples. Contrary to this, we found that trust and trustworthiness were significantly higher among university students than among villagers in rural communities in Malawi. We decomposed the trust and trustworthiness to investigate the relative importance of alternative explanations for their variation and to explain the unexpected gap in trust and trustworthiness between the student and rural samples."
27.09.2023 - Group seminar HH - Choice lists and Maximal Likelihood Estimation, Dag Einar Sommervoll presented the paper. This is joint work with Stein Holden and Mesfin Tilahun.
“We examine the sensitivity of maximum likelihood estimates in intertemporal choice experiments by varying the number of tasks included in the estimation, ranging from using all tasks to only those defining the switch point between near and far future alternatives.
Understanding intertemporal choice through experiments oftentimes rely on choice lists and more or less refined structural models that are fitted to data. This fitting tend to rely on maximal likelihood estimation. In particular, intertemporal choice lists tend to be designed to capture a switch point, where the respondent switches from the near future to the far future alternative or vice versa. We investigate the ML-estimates sensitivity to the number of tasks included in the estimation for the choice lists in question from one extreme all tasks are present in the estimation, to the other only the two tasks that defines the switch point.
28.04.2023 - Group seminar HH - The best of both worlds: combining behavioural models with machine learning for improved out-of-distribution forecasting. Stephane Hess from the Choice Modeling Centre at the University of Leeds gave a talk on how to combine machine learning and behavioral choice models.
Demand modellers are increasingly interested in using models from outside the traditional choice modelling area, first incorporating ideas from behavioural economics, such as in regret modelling, before looking at mathematical psychology and machine learning. A key question arises as to how well these different models perform in prediction, especially when predicting trips of different characteristics from those used in estimation. This presentation first compares the elasticities and model fit of different models, bringing together models as diverse as logit, random regret, decision field theory and neural networks. We highlight differences in elasticities and also note that the prediction performance deteriorates at different rates for different models when moving further away from the estimation data. We then develop a model averaging approach that allows us to make the most of the entire collection of models and estimate weights for different models as a function of distance away from the estimation sample."
29.03.2023 - Group seminar HH - Establishing a IRB at NMBU: Ingrid Roxrød from the NMBU Research Administration gave an update on the status of the establishment of an IRB at NMBU.
More and more international journals have established as a fundamental requirement that all data collected from human subjects must have been through an ethical approval by an Internal Review Board at the university/institutions that are responsible for the data collected. I have myself in our research project SMARTEX in Malawi where we among others collected data on the corona pandemic (perception data, not clinical data) without having an IRB approval from NMBU and LUANAR (the local university in Malawi) (as NMBU and LUANAR do not have such IRBs), tried to publish papers based on these data in several international journals. Due to the lack of approval by an IRB we have been desk rejected in PLOS ONE, Journal of Development Studies, and cannot even submit the paper to Francis and Taylor journals as an IRB approval is required before we can submit (Forum For Development Studies – a Norway origin journal is a Francis and Taylor journal does not respond even to a request for an exception as our Norwegian system of ethical approval is different from that in other countries.
So how do we establish an efficient and good system for ethical approval of research using surveys and experiments with human subjects? Who should evaluate our long survey instruments that typically are field tested and modified in the process of implementation? Who has the competence to understand the context where we are carrying out studies such as in developing countries. For example, we are now going back to study the survival and living conditions of 2500 youth in Tigray in Ethiopia that have experienced 2 years of civil war and where more than 10% of the population may have died during the civil war. We need good standard to follow that can satisfy the requirements from international journals."
15.03.2023 - Group seminar HH - The choice of consolidated versus dedicated roles - A policy capture vignette experiment: Runar Solberg, PhD-student at HH, presented his research proposal:
When should one dedicate roles to particular units in an organization, and when should one consolidate roles across units? This is a fundamental problem faced by managers. Role Consolidation (RC) is commonplace both within and across organizations. Aimed at the realization of synergy and seen as a source of economies of scope, RC leads to formal and physical integration or sharing of assets that were previously managed and utilized by a single unit. It is clear that RC is highly challenging for the stakeholders involved. Existing research has documented that RC sometimes produces disappointing results in the form of cost overruns and reduction in service quality. Despite its ubiquity, there is, to my knowledge, no systematic framework that can help decision makers identify and weigh different criteria that may be relevant when making such a decision. The overall goal of this research project is thus to establish and evaluate an analytical decision support tool based on theory and empirical research. In a previous Delphi study, a panel of experts evaluated a prototype tool. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate whether novices and experts differ with regard to criteria preferences when using the tool. The goals of this policy capture vignette study/factorial survey experiment are to (1) explore whether expertise matters in these kinds of decisions, and, if so, (2) what the particular criteria are that experts value more highly than novices (with and without applying the decision support tool), and finally (3) whether using the decision support tool improves decision accuracy. A similar methodology has been utilized earlier by Sánchez-Manzanares et al. (2008), Lee & Puranam (2015) and Morgan et al. (2000).
01.03.2023 - Group seminar HH - Can climate shocks make vulnerable subjects more willing to take risks? Stein Holden presented the paper. This is joint work with Mesfin Tilahun
While economists in the past tended to assume that individual preferences, including risk preferences, are stable over time, a recent literature has developed and indicates that risk preferences respond to shocks. This paper utilizes a natural experiment with covariate (drought) and idiosyncratic shocks in combination with an independent field risk experiment. The risk experiment uses a Certainty Equivalent - Multiple Choice List (CE-MCL) approach and is played 1-2 years after the subjects were (to a varying degree) exposed to a covariate drought shock or idiosyncratic shocks. The experimental approach facilitated a comprehensive assessment of shock effects on experimental risk premiums with varying probabilities of good and bad outcomes. The experiment also facilitates the estimation of the utility curvature in an Expected Utility (EU) model, and alternatively, separate estimation of probability weighting and utility curvature in three different Rank Dependent Utility (RDU) models with a two-parameter Prelec probability weighting function. Our study is the first to comprehensively test the theoretical predictions of Gollin and Pratt (1996) versus Quiggin (2003). Gollin and Pratt (1996) build on EU theory and state that an increase in background risk will make subjects more risk averse while Quiggin (2003) states that an increase in background risk can enhance risk-taking in certain types of non-EU models. We find strong evidence that such non-EU preferences dominate in our sample and can explain the surprising result. In our sample of resource-poor young adults living in a risky semiarid rural environment in Sub-Saharan Africa, we find that the covariate drought shock had negative effects on risk premiums and the utility curvature and caused an upward shift in the probability weighting function. To our knowledge, this is the first paper to carry out such a rigorous test of a shock effect on utility curvature and probability weighting.
A link to the Working Paper: https://www.nmbu.no/en/faculty/hh/research/centers/clts/news/node/46629
25.01.2023 - Group seminar HH - Mapping and assessment of digital climate nudges in Nordic online grocery store:
Nora Ytreberg presented her paper. This is joint work with Frode Alfnes and Bob van Oort
This paper explores how 21 Nordic online food retailers nudge their customers toward more climate-friendly food choices. We use a choice architecture taxonomy dividing the nudges into decision information, decision structure, and decision assistance. We find that most retailers use several types of climate nudges. Most of these are decision information-type nudges, such as personalized carbon footprint apps and climate labels. Wide use of non-salient nudges, often presenting the climate impact after the customers have made their purchase, limits the potential impact of information on consumers' environmental footprints. Furthermore, the use of broad climate categories and aggregated CO2 measures reflect the challenges in calculating the footprints of individual products. The lack of industry-wide standards for emission data and climate labels makes the current situation challenging for customers wanting to compare emissions across stores. Our results also show that few stores have any form of decision structure or decision assistance nudges, even though these are often found to be the most effective types. We end with discussing promising digital climate nudging opportunities for retailers seeking to reduce the environmental footprint of their customers.
Stein Holden has been teaching Behavioral and Experimental Economics as a digital course to MSc- and PhD-students at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Malawi as part of the SMARTEX project, funded under the NORHED program of NORAD.
- Methods for measuring risk and time preferences
- Risk and Behavior
- Social Preferences, Trust, and Social Organization
1.SMARTEX - Experiments for Development of Climate Smart Agriculture
Funded by NORAD under NORHED II. Project period 2021-2024.
A collaborative research and capacity-building program with School of Economics and Business (SEB) at NMBU, Ås, Norway and LUANAR, Malawi, as the main partners. The Project builds on the long-term Collaboration between SEB-NMBU and LUANAR, including under NORHED I, the project Climate-Smart Natural Resource Management and Policy (CLISNARP). LUANAR has established its own PhD-program in Economics and is in strong need to further develop and strengthen its capacity to run this program. SEB-NMBU will contribute to this within the area of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Climate Economics and Land Tenure and Property Markets. Especially the use of experimental methods will be applied to issues associated with finding climate smart solutions for sustainable intensification of agriculture in Malawi.
2. Youth Business Groups for Sustainable Development: Lessons from the Ethiopian Model.
Funded by Research Council of Norway under the NORGLOBAL2 program for the period 2019-2023. The project studies youth business groups that have been allocated communal land to establish sustainable businesses in northern Ethiopia. The project combines surveys, field experiments and randomized control trials and includes alternative forms of training to enhance performance of the group businesses.
Note: Due to the corona pandemic and 2 years of civil war in the study area the project has been delayed but has been expanded through 2024 and started again in March 2023 to investigate the situation on the ground. A new survey and experimental round to investigate the status of the youth business groups, their members and families started in August 2023 and is expected to finish by December 2023.
Group seminar HH - spdesign - is a free software package with an easy to use interface to create flexible stated preference experimental designs: Presenter: Erlend Dancke Sandorf
Group seminar HH - How WEIRD are student samples? Lessons based on the trust game in Malawi.: Presenter: Stein Holden.
Group seminar HH - Choice lists and Maximal Likelihood Estimation: Presenter: Dag Einar Sommervoll.
Group seminar HH - The best of both worlds: combining behavioural models with machine learning for improved out-of-distribution forecasting. Presenter: Stephane Hess from the Choice Modeling Centre at the University of Leeds
Group seminar HH - Establishing an IRB at NMBU: Presenter: Ingrid Roxrød from the NMBU Research Administration
Group seminar HH - The choice of consolidated versus dedicated roles - A policy capture vignette experiment: Presenter: Runar Solberg
Group seminar HH - Can climate shocks make vulnerable subjects more willing to take risks? Presenter: Stein Holden
Group seminar HH - Mapping and assessment of digital climate nudges in Nordic online grocery store: Presenter: Nora Ytreberg