Second Sydney Winter School in Experimental Economics 2011

School of Economics, University of Sydney, 18-22 July 2011

The School of Economics at The University of Sydney is pleased to announce a five-day winter school on advanced topics in experimental economics.

Two leading international experimental economists will participate in the winter school as teaching faculty. They are Professor Simon Gächter (University of Nottingham) and Professor Graham Loomes (University of Warwick).

The winter school will comprise four days of intensive coursework and laboratory sessions. On a fifth day, there will be a research symposium in which participants will have the opportunity to present results of their own research. The symposium will also include a poster session, in which participants will be able to present more preliminary work, including work at a design stage.

Symposium
students studying at desks in classroom

One day of the winter school will be set aside for a research symposium in which participants will have the opportunity to present results of their own research. The symposium will also include a poster session, in which participants will be able to present more preliminary work, including work at a design stage.

Graham Loomes

Professor Graham Loomes is Professor of Economics at The University of Warwick

Information about Professor Loomes' lectures:

There is a huge experimental literature examining individual decisions of many kinds. My focus will be upon individual decision making involving risk and uncertainty. I will provide an overview of the main developments in decision theory since von Neumann and Morgenstern. The emphasis will be upon the key behavioural features and interpretations of those developments rather than upon the technical/mathematical refinements. I shall also consider some of the features of experimental and survey data patterns which point to factors often regarded by economists (if not psychologists) as being ‘outside’ the domain of formal theory – for example, ‘framing’ effects and the seemingly systematic impacts of different preference-elicitation procedures. I shall pay considerable attention to the ‘noise’ and ‘imprecision’ evident in many people’s responses. There was a good deal of interest in this aspect of experimental data up to the mid-1960s, but then interest appeared to subside, and much of the development of theory during the following 30 years was in terms of deterministic models. Interest in the stochastic component of people’s responses revived in the mid-1990s and has continued since – although with many questions remaining unresolved. Yet the possible implications for testing theories and eliciting preferences for policy purposes may be profound, and I shall discuss the issues not only in the context of laboratory experiments but also in relation to ‘stated preference’ survey methods used to inform public policy in areas such as health, safety and the environment.

Simon Gächter

Professor Simon Gächter is Professor of the Psychology of Economic Decision Making at The University of Nottingham

Information about Professor Gächter's lectures:

In my lectures I will concentrate on two (broadly related) strands of my current research: the role of cultural and social context for voluntary cooperation. I will provide a selective review of the literature on bilateral and multilateral cooperation (basically gift exchange games and public goods games) and then investigate the question of how behaviour is influenced by social and cultural context. This is important because acts of voluntary cooperation rarely take place in social isolation. I will present experimental designs that allow us to measure “peer effects”, that is, how people’s pro-social behaviour is influenced by the behaviour of others even if there are no material payoff spillovers between people. The goal is to relate observed behaviour to predictions made by theories of social preferences, as well as to theories of social norms which sometimes make the same but often come up with conflicting predictions. Assessing the relative merits of these theories should guide the further development of theories that also take the role of social context into account. A second topic of my lectures will be the role of cultural and societal background for multilateral cooperation and punishment. I will review existing evidence and discuss ways of studying cultural influences on economic decision making. I will also relate to recent debates in evolutionary biology and anthropology.

Recommended reading:

"Peer Effects in Pro-Social Behavior: Social Norms or Social Preferences?" CeDEx Discussion Paper No. 2010-23, December 2010 (with Daniele Nosenzo and Martin Sefton).

"Culture and Cooperation" Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences 365(1553), September 2010, 2651-2661 (with Benedikt Herrmann and Christian Thöni).