Published and Working Papers:

- "The Deadweight Loss of Social Recognition" (with Rob Metcalfe, William Morrison, and Dmitry Taubinsky) (PDF - NBER version) (R&R at American Economic Review)

Abstract: A growing body of empirical work shows that social recognition of individuals' behavior can meaningfully influence individuals’ choices. This paper studies whether social recognition is a socially efficient lever for influencing individuals’ choices. Because social recognition generates utility from esteem to some but disutility from shame to others, it can be either positive-sum, zero-sum, or negative-sum. This depends on whether the social recognition utility function is convex, linear, or concave, respectively. We develop a new revealed preferences methodology to investigate this question, which we deploy in a field experiment on promoting attendance to the YMCA of the Triangle Area. We find that social recognition increases YMCA attendance by 17-23% over a one-month period in our experiment, and our estimated structural models predict that it would increase attendance by 19-23% if it were applied to the whole YMCA of the Triangle Area population. However, we find that the social recognition utility function is significantly concave and thus generates deadweight loss. If our social recognition intervention were applied to the whole YMCA of the Triangle Area population, we estimate that it would generate deadweight loss of $1.23-$2.15 per dollar of behaviorally-equivalent financial incentives.

- "A New Mechanism to Alleviate the Crises of Confidence in Science-With An Application to the Public Goods Game" (with Philip Grossman, Daniel Houser, John List, and Marie Claire Villeval) (NBER version

Abstract: Creation of empirical knowledge in economics has taken a dramatic turn in the past few decades. One feature of the new research landscape is the nature and extent to which scholars generate data. Today, in nearly every field the experimental approach plays an increasingly crucial role in testing theories and informing organizational decisions. Whereas there is much to appreciate about this revolution, recently a credibility crisis has taken hold across the social sciences, arguing that an important component of Fischer (1935)'s tripod has not been fully embraced: replication. Indeed, while the importance of replications is not debatable scientifically, current incentives are not sufficient to encourage replications from the individual researcher's perspective. We analyze a novel mechanism that promotes replications by leveraging mutually beneficial gains between scholars and editors. We develop a model capturing the trade-offs involved in seeking independent replications before submission of a paper to journals. We demonstrate the operation of this method via an investigation of the effects of Knightian uncertainty on cooperation rates in public goods games, a pervasive and yet largely unexplored feature in the literature.

- "An Economic Approach to Alleviate the Crisis of Confidence in Science: With an Application to the Public Goods Game" (with John List) (PDF - NBER version)

IdeaNovel and surprising experimental results sometimes fail to move scholars’ priors when they should, and sometimes they move priors too much. We develop a novel mechanism to promote replications and generate mutually beneficial gains from trade between economists: the authors of a novel (and surprising) study publish their results online as a working paper but commit to never send it to a peer-reviewed journal. They instead offer co-authorship on a second, yet to be written paper to colleagues willing to independently replicate the study. The second paper references the seminal working paper, includes all replications, and it is sent to a peer-reviewed journal. We test our mechanism on our own novel experiment in which we find that individuals cooperate more when there is (Knightian) uncertainty about the quality of a public good.

- "Delegating Altruism: Toward an Understanding of Agency in Charitable Giving(with Dan Houser) (PDF) Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 155 (2018): 99-109

Idea: Choosing a deserving recipient requires time and effort. One possibility is to delegate this decision to a better-informed agent. Better allocation decisions come at the cost of losing control over decisions, which in turns may reduce the charitable impulse. We study how the presence of intermediaries affects the charitable giving markets.

- "Neurocomputational Mechanisms at Play when Weighing Concerns for Extrinsic Rewards, Moral Values and Social Image" (with Jean Claude Dreher, Elise Metereau, Marie Claire Villeval, and Chen Qu) - PDF   PLOS Biology 17.6 (2019): e3000283.

Idea: When observed by others, people tend to be more pro-social.  Which combinations of costs for the individual and social benefits make this effect more likely? Does social image work in the same way for decisions that involve “doing good” and decisions that involve “not doing bad”? 

- "Give Less but Give Smart: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Public Information about Quality on Giving " (with Jeffrey Horn)  - PDF  (NEW VERSION!) (Accepted at Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization)

Idea: Do existing donors adjust their donations when they perceive that the quality of their charities has changed, or when they realize that positive news about their charities can be used to receive social recognition? Good news may induce donors to give more, since they may perceive that it is cheaper to generate charitable output. On the other hand positive news may crowd-out giving because donors may provide a higher or equal level of charitable output with lower nominal donations.

"Hidden Costs of Control under Aligned Monetary Interests" (with Jason Aimone) - PDF  (under review)

Idea: Principals concerned by subordinates’ opportunism often impose output-related restrictions. This form of control backfires sometimes.We study whether these hidden costs of control arise also when principal’s authority favors – rather than reduce – subordinates’ payoffs, and how different hierarchical rules reduce or exacerbate these costs. 

- "Altruistic Punishment in Elections"(With Jason Aimone and Thomas Stratmann) - PDF (European Journal of Political Economy 53 (2018): 149-160)

Idea: For many individuals, the outcome of an election rarely affects directly their material well-being. Yet, observed elections’ turnouts are often high. We study whether individuals who are indifferent to electoral outcomes “go out” and vote against a candidate who hasn’t maintained his promises.

- "The Effect of Giving Games on Attitudes towards Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence" (With Jon Behar and Dan Houser) (draft coming soon) 

Idea: We study how choosing to donate on behalf of someone else affects peoples’ attitudes toward giving.

Selected work in progress:

- "Knightian uncertainty and cooperation" (with Philip Grossman, Daniel Houser, John List and Marie Claire Villeval) - AEA RCT registry number: AEARCTR-0002142

- "Non-cognitive skills and labor outcomes: a field experiment" (with Jennifer Bernard, John List and Daniel Tannenbaum)

-"Spillover effects and voter turnout" (with Fatemeh Momeni) 

-"Social recognition and voting" (with Cesar Martinelli, Fatemeh Momeni and Thomas Stratmann)

- "Time and giving" (with John List) 

- "Work compliance and volunteering: a field experiment" (with John List and Michael Price)