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Personal accountability and cooperation in teams

Working papers
Axel Sonntag, Daniel John Zizzo
SSRN working paper
Publication year: 2018

In a real effort lab and online team production experiment, we analyze exerted effort under different conditions of individual accountability. In a repeated setting, we vary the degree to which production can be directly traced back to a collaborator’s individual or randomly drawn effort level, respectively. We find that individuals produce much less and the decline of effort over time is significantly steeper under high as compared to low and endogenously chosen personal accountability. While endogenous accountability provides an option for monitoring others, it does not force subjects to learn about their under-performing peers, thus limiting the typical decline of contributions over time. We conclude that accountability one step removed may be an interesting institutional setting for repeated collaborations in contexts where low accountability for political, social or legal reasons is not a viable option.

Rauchen bei Jugendlichen - Verhaltensökonomisch basierte Maßnahmenevaluation

Research reports
Martin G. Kocher, Johannes Scherrer, Christian Bauer, Karoline Gatter, Axel Sonntag, Thomas Czypionka
Institut für Höhere Studien, Wien, 2017
Publication year: 2017

This publication is available in German only.

 

Mit der Anpassung des gesetzlichen Mindestalters für den Erwerb, Konsum und Besitz von Tabakwaren auf 18 Jahre reagiert die Gesetzgebung auf eine bedenkliche „Spitzenposition“: In
keinem Land Europas rauchen mehr Jugendliche unter 15 Jahren. Die Gesetzesänderung soll von einem umfassenden, von der ARGE Suchtvorbeugung empfohlen Paket an Präventions-
und Entwöhnungsmaßnahmen begleitet werden: Jugendliche sollen über angepasste Hotlines und eine App Unterstützung beim Rauchstopp erhalten, digitale, interaktive und
niederschwellige Kommunikation sollen die Norm des Nichtrauchens unter Jugendlichen stärken, zudem empfiehlt die ARGE ein bundesweit einheitliches Vorgehen bei
Gesetzesverstößen.

Die vorliegende Arbeit analysiert die vorgeschlagenen Maßnahmen aus verhaltensökonomischer Perspektive, unterstützt die Forderung nach einem möglichst einheitlichen Sanktionsmodell und schlägt Ansätze zur Implementierung und systematischen Evaluierung eingeführter Maßnahmen vor. Die Analyse des Rauchverhaltens auf Basis internationaler Studien in einem Framework, das Verhalten auf die wesentlichen Treiber Bereitschaft und Bewusstsein zurückführt, zeigt dabei: Weniger das Wissen über die grundlegende Schädlichkeit des Rauchens ist das Problem (Bewusstsein), als die über verschiedene verhaltenspsychologische Biases beeinflusste Bereitschaft, dieses Wissen in die Tat umzusetzen: RaucherInnen werten zukünftigen Nutzen von Nichtrauchen tendenziell stärker ab als NichtraucherInnen, haben einen ausgeprägteren Glauben, von negativen Ereignissen nicht betroffen zu sein und stehen unter großem Einfluss von Gewohnheiten und sozialen Kontextfaktoren. Die vorgeschlagenen Maßnahmen zielen hingegen weitgehend auf Kommunikation und Bewusstseinsbildung ab, können dadurch an Wirksamkeit einbüßen. Sie haben jedoch Potenzial, durch eine verhaltensökonomische Optimierung in der Ausgestaltung auch psychologische oder soziale Anreize der Bereitschaft zu adressieren. Dies gilt insbesondere für die Rauchfrei-App, die gleichsam hohen Adaptionsspielraum und ein ideales Test-Umfeld für die Evaluierung mittels Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) bietet.

Bezüglich des Umgangs mit Verstößen ist die Forderung nach einem gemeinsamen Vorgehen der Länder aus verhaltensökonomischer Perspektive zu unterstützen. Der konkrete Vorschlag knüpft dabei an die bestehende Gesetzgebung der Länder sowie den Vorschlag eines – an die Entwicklungsstufe der Pubertät – angepassten Stufenmodells an. Ein Informations- bzw. Beratungsgespräch kann insbesondere dann Wirkung entfalten, wenn es in unmittelbarem zeitlichen Kontext des Vergehens steht und Komplementarität zu den Präventionsmaßnahmen bietet. Folgevergehen werden bislang vor allem durch die Auferlegung gemeinnütziger Arbeit und Geldbußen geahndet. Hier ist im Falle der Arbeitsleistung ratsam, eine stärkere, inhaltliche Verbindung zum Vergehen herzustellen. Geldbußen bieten indes das Potenzial, Erkenntnisse verhaltensökonomischer Forschung zum Commitment zu berücksichtigen und in optionalen

Information defaults in repeated public good provision

Work in progress
Jia Liu, Axel Sonntag, Daniel J. Zizzo
work in progress
Publication year: 2017

We present an experiment on information defaults and information seeking in a repeated public goods provision setting. In our experiment the default is one either with or without information about others’ contributions, and having information comes either at a financial cost or at a financial benefit. Subjects mostly follow the money in deciding whether to have the information or not, but around a third seek or stick to information even when this is costly. However, a default of not having information about the others’ contributions leads to a slower unraveling of cooperation, whether or not the information is financially costly or beneficial. This slower unraveling is explained by the dynamic of beliefs about others’ contributions in these treatments. A secondary informational default effect appears to take place. When the default is no information, subjects do not seek information more but, conditional on taking into account financial incentives, they tend to believe that more other subjects seek information.

Focality is Intuitive - Experimental Evidence on Time Pressure and Response Times from Coordination Games

Work in progress
Anders Poulsen, Axel Sonntag
work in progress
Publication year: 2017

We experimentally examine the effects of time pressure on the likelihood that two players coordinate on a label salient focal point in a coordination game. We consider both payoff-symmetric and payoff-asymmetric coordination games. In symmetric games almost everyone coordinate on the focal point, regardless of how much time they have to decide. In asymmetric games, in contrast, the less time people have the more able they are at coordinating on a focal action, and the higher earnings consequently are. Furthermore, the subjects who prefer coordination on the focal outcome are slower in making their decision than those subjects who prefer coordination on the non-focal action.

Estimating the price elasticity of fuel demand with stated preferences derived from a situational approach

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Reinhard Hössinger, Christoph Link, Axel Sonntag, Juliane Stark
Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Volume 103, Pages 154–171, doi: 10.1016/j.tra.2017.06.001
Publication year: 2017

An evidence-based policy debate about future fuel demand requires reliable estimates for fuel price elasticities. Such predictions are often based on revealed preference (RP) data. However, this procedure will only yield reliable results in the absence of severe structural discontinuities. In order to overcome this potential limitation we used a situational stated preference (SP) survey to estimate the response to hypothetical fuel price changes beyond the scope of previous observations. We elicit fuel price elasticities for price increases up to four Euros per liter and find that the situational approach predicts the actual responses to previously observed fuel price changes very well. We conclude that applying a situational approach is particularly useful, if behavioral predictions for unprecedented (non-monetary) policy interventions or supply side shocks are of interest that go beyond the reach of standard RP approaches.

Empowering consumers to reduce corporate tax avoidance

Work in progress
Enrique Fatas, Antonio Morales, Axel Sonntag
work in progress
Publication year: 2017

We analyse corporate tax avoidance in a stylized experimental Bertrand setting with homogenous products and symmetric firms and consumers. More specifically, we investigate how market concentration and information disclosure of firms’ tax avoidance behaviour could reduce corporate tax avoidance. We find that making corporate tax behaviour more transparent by introducing a tax rating, makes consumers actively and costly boycott firms that do not pay their taxes. Firms anticipate consumer boycotts and increase their tax payments accordingly.

Disincentives and Redistribution: Experimental Evidence on a Dividend of Democracy

Work in progress
Rupert Sausgruber, Axel Sonntag, Jean-Robert Tyran
work in progress
Publication year: 2017

We develop a new design to measure the disincentive effects in labor supply in a laboratory real-effort task. We study disincentives from taxing work and redistributing tax revenues per capita when redistribution is imposed vs. democratically chosen in a vote. We find that disincentives are significantly smaller when redistribution is chosen in vote than when it is imposed. That is, we find a “dividend of democracy” in the sense that the efficiency cost of redistribution is smaller (and tax revenues are higher) when taxation and redistribution is “legitimate”, i.e. supported by a vote.

Contract Choice: Efficiency and Fairness in Revenue Sharing Contracts

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Alexandros Karakostas, Axel Sonntag, Daniel John Zizzo
Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 119(4), 962–986, doi: 10.1111/sjoe.12200
Publication year: 2017

We present a simple principal-agent experiment in which the principals are allowed to choose between a revenue sharing, a bonus and a trust contract, to offer to an agent. Our findings suggest that a large majority of experimental subjects choose the revenue sharing contract. This choice not only turns out to be the most efficient but at the same time is fair. Overall, the distribution of earnings is only mildly skewed towards the principal. We conclude that under revenue sharing contracts concerns for fairness can go in hand with the use of monetary incentives.

Contract Choice: Efficiency and Fairness in Revenue Sharing Contracts - online appendix

Online appendices
Alexandros Karakostas, Axel Sonntag, Daniel John Zizzo
The Scandinavian Journal of Economics. Forthcoming
Publication year: 2016

Search costs and adaptive consumers: Short time delays do not affect choice quality

Peer-reviewed journal articles
Axel Sonntag
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 113. Elsevier B.V.: 64–79. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2015.02.024.
Publication year: 2015

Using online price comparison and shopping platforms makes experiencing slow connections, lags and waiting times for information an unfortunate reality. However, little attention has been paid to analyzing the effects of such delayed display of information on product choice behavior. This article explores the effect of time delays in a multi-attribute choice laboratory experiment by not providing information immediately when requested but after short time delays. Increasing these waiting times reduced the amount of information looked-up but did not affect choice quality. Higher time delays made decision-makers use more deliberate search processes, whereas low time delays induced inefficient oversearching.