- Giving to Government
- Houston Schools Project
- Individual Heterogeneity and Uncertainty in Public Good Provision
- Neighborhoods Project
- Towards an Improved Methodology in Analyzing Corruption
- Wireless Interactive Teaching System (WITS)
- ADVANCE Faculty Advancement and Faculty Life at UTD
- Behavioral Insights into National Security Issues
- Deconstructing Nepotism
- The Effects of Short - Term Punishment and Sanctions on Bribery - US versus Pakistan
Giving to Government
In an effort to better understand charitable giving, Catherine Eckel (UTD), Phil Grossman (St. Cloud State University) and Sherry Li (UTD) are conducting a study of giving where they compare donations to private and government-funded organizations with closely-related functions.
For this study, subjects are given an endowment, then have the opportunity to donate any part of their endowment to an organization. Subjects make a series of decisions, and for each decision they are paired with an organization. This organization is either government-funded or is a nongovernmental charity. The government organizations are at varying levels such as the U.S. federal government, the Texas state government and the Dallas local government. The nongovernment charities also serve different geographic areas such as the U.S., the State of Texas and the local Dallas area. These organizations benefit one of four causes: Parks and Wildlife, Cancer Prevention and Research, Disaster Relief or Education Enhancement. Subjects make decisions of how much on an endowment to keep for themselves or and how much to pass to the organization. These decisions give us a measure of their support for different organizations and activities. We also collect subjects' perceptions of the effectiveness of the organizations.
Houston Schools Project
We know that people have different outcomes in life. This is evident by just looking out your front door. What we don't know is why people have different outcomes. Surely, education is important, and so is the opportunity set into which you are born. However, one would think that the ability to be successful in life is also a function of an individual's preferences. We would expect that people who are more patient would invest more in education and other forms of human capital, as well as investing more in their bank accounts. We would expect people who are more risk seeking to be more likely to become an entrepreneur or CEO. And, we would expect that people who are more altruistic would be more likely to find jobs in service industries... [more]
Individual Heterogeneity and Uncertainty in Public Good Provision
Neighbors with unkempt lawns, obstinate colleagues, unaccommodating team-members…we have all been involved in groups where one sour apple put their individual interests above that of the group and thus destroyed what had been a cooperative and efficient interaction. This research investigates behavior in social dilemmas (instances where the individual optimum and social optimum are in direct conflict), which pose some of the most interesting and rich problems in social science research... [more]
Type Elicitation Task Screen Shots
Lab Study Screen Shots
Preferences and Poverty Traps: Experimental Investigations of Risk, Time and Social Preferences in Low-Income Neighborhoods... [more]
Towards an Improved Methodology in Analyzing Corruption
At the beginning of the Fall semester in Pakistan, Sheheryar Banuri continued the Pakistan treatment of the bribery game developed by Banuri, Croson, Eckel, and Kline. The experiment seeks to understand whether differences in responses to corruption exist across cultures, and whether these can be attributed to the citizen's own perceptions and tolerance of corrupt activities. Experimental methodology is especially useful in studying corruption due to the unavailability of reliable data at both the individual and societal levels. Experiments can thus simulate corrupt situations in laboratory settings and allow researchers to then study the responses of individual citizens to corrupt activities... [more]
Wireless Interactive Teaching System (WITS)
The Wireless Interactive Teaching System (WITS) uses handheld devices and wireless technology to facilitate interactive learning in large classes by putting technology in the hands of the students during class. The system consists of Dell Axim x30 PDAs equipped with wireless capabilities, a laptop server, a wireless access point, and a projector, and the proprietary WITS software. The system forms an intra-net using the 802.11b wireless standard. The WITS system allows students to trade in markets, play standard economics games (prisoners' dilemma, public good, 2x2 matrix, etc.), take multiple choice quizzes, and communicate with the instructor during class.
ADVANCE Faculty Advancement and Faculty Life at UTD
The UTD faculty advancement and faculty life project is designed to identify, evaluate, and improve the culture, policies, procedures, and resources needed to advance the research, teaching, and professional service careers of UTD faculty...[more]
Behavioral Insights into National Security Issues
As the September 11 attacks in the USA in 2001 proved, international terrorism has taken on a new dimension. The urgency and intensity of the terrorist threat suddenly became evident for all to see, and people were made aware of just how important counter-terrorism and international cooperation in this field now are. Most counterterrorism strategies involve an increase in standard police and domestic intelligence. Although a number of formal theories have been developed on terrorism, counterterrorism, prevention and security, very few of these theories have been tested for behavioral accuracy. The object of our research is to identify domains in which these theories are behaviorally relevant, and when they might be improved to better explain and predict individual actions.
The first setting of our experiment is that of attack and defense games, modeled as a Blotto game, which will identify how individual play is consistent with or deviates from equilibrium predictions. The second setting is cooperation among countries in the decision to pursue terrorist organizations, protect their own territory, or do nothing. This will investigate behavior and explore institutions that might enhance cooperation. The last setting is suicide attacks. In these experiments, variation in volunteering behavior with changes in the size and nature of advantage, the group identity, and the amount and type of improvement received will be examined.
Very few experiments in this field have been done before. We are working on obtaining a more accurate picture of the choices individuals make in these strategic situations, and to see how those choices might differ from those out models predict will help both in improving our own decision-making and in anticipating the decision errors of our enemies, so that we can develop some more effective counterterrorist policies.
We use experiments to test whether the ability to choose a partner in the trust game (Berg et al. 1995) affects individual levels of trust and reciprocity. The innovation in our game is the ability for trustors to select the group that their counterpart is drawn from. They can select a member of their primary group or a member from the general population as the trustee. In-group members are less productive by design. We test the relative strength of two possible motives for engaging in nepotism. First, partnering with an in-group member is less risky, and beliefs regarding group member reciprocal behavior may be high enough to offset the costs of lowered productivity. Second, individuals with a strong sense of group identity may be more likely to partner with their group members. Furthermore, trustees may reciprocate more due to a strong group identity. In addition to testing these motivations, we address the impact on efficiency of a basic anti-nepotism policy: the inability to choose your group members. In a second paper, we conduct this experiment across two cultures in order to address the variation in motives on a relatively egalitarian population with low corruption (the US) versus a traditionalist or familial population with high corruption (Pakistan).
The Effects of Short - Term Punishment and Sanctions on Bribery - US versus Pakistan
We model bribery as a three-person finitely repeated game to study the impact of strategic punishment on corrupt behavior. The game involves a government official who receives a bribe, a firm who offers a bribe, and an individual who is harmed by the bribe. This research asks two major questions: given that individuals are willing to engage in costly punishment in order to reinforce norms, how is punishment allocated between the two parties of a bribe (the firm and the official)? That is to say, are individuals more likely to punish bribe initiators or bribe acceptors? Secondly, what impact does punishment have on pulling individuals away from the “corrupt” equilibrium both when the punishment institution is available, and when it is not? We implement this game in two countries on opposing ends of the corruption perceptions index, the US and Pakistan. We ask: are individuals less likely to punish government officials due to previous (real-world) experience with corruption, and how does this punishment allocation impact bribing behavior? A second paper addresses the impact of an anti-corruption policy shock in driving individuals away from the corrupt equilibrium using a within-subjects design.