Time preferences and medication adherence: A field experiment with pregnant women in South Africa with Kai Barron, Mette Trier Damgaard and Lisa Norrgren

The effectiveness of many health recommendations and treatment plans depends on the extent to which individuals follow them. For the individual, medication adherence involves an inter-temporal trade-off between expected future health benefits and immediate effort costs. Therefore examining time-preferences may help us to understand why some people fail to follow health recommendations and treatment plans. In this paper, we use a simple, unobtrusive real-effort task implemented via text message to elicit the time preferences of pregnant women in South Africa.
We find evidence that both our measured discount factor and time-inconsistency are predictive of self-reported adherence to the recommendation of taking iron supplements daily during pregnancy. 
This suggests that patience plays a role in determining medication adherence patterns. 

Arbitrage Or Narrow Bracketing?
On Using Money to Measure Discounting 
with James Andreoni, Mike Kuhn, Silvia Saccardo and Yang Yang

If experimental subjects arbitrage against market interest rates when making intertemporal allocations of cash, the data will reveal nothing about subjects' discounting, only uncovering subjects' market interest rates. If subjects instead frame choices narrowly, they will plan to spend cash rewards when received, implying cash has properties similar primary rewards. We test arbitrage directly by forcing all transactions with subjects to go exclusively through their financial institutions via instant electronic transfers. If subjects wish to arbitrage, this should make it as easy and salient as possible. Our evidence contradicts arbitrage, and finds evidence of present bias, supporting the view that money payments in experiments can be treated as a primary reward.

Reminders: Their Value and Hidden Costs (book chapter forthcoming in Behavioral Economics in the Wild, edited by Dilip Soman and Nina Mazar)

In a world where everyone wants our attention, reminders and notifications are omnipresent. It is evident that reminders work. They steer our attention towards a particular decision, and in many cases, they can be a powerful tool for motivation and behavior change. However, reminders also have a dark side – they distract us and turn our time into "time confetti" by pulling our attention away from what we are currently focusing on. I will draw on my research on reminders as well as the many great experiments done by colleagues. First, I will give insights into why reminders work to change behavior. Then, I will discuss whether pure reminders can be improved upon with framing or other types of "nudges". I will briefly discuss the difference between physical and digital reminders. Next, I will discuss the optimal timing of reminders and what happens when they are used repeatedly. That leads me to the challenge of annoyance costs that reminders create and present evidence on how reminders can backfire. Lastly, I summarize what we have learned about designing reminders so far and what we need to investigate further.

Nudge me! Response to and demand for healthy habit reminders with Kai Barron, Mette Trier Damgaard

An extensive literature documents that reminders can increase beneficial habits. However, little is know about the mechanisms of how reminders work and how different components influence the demand for reminders. We develop a theoretical model that elucidates the different potential mechanisms through which repeated reminders operate. The model yields a set of testable hypotheses. We run a nationwide field experiment on medication adherence with over 4000 pregnant women in South Africa. In line with our model, our results show that pure reminders which affect attention without conveying any information or moral message have a significant positive effect on stated adherence levels and increase demand for more reminders. Adding an emotional trigger to the reminders, which could affect the emotional utility of carrying out the behavior, also increases adherence and the demand for reminders. Contrary to our model, additional health information which is intended to increase beliefs about the importance of the behavior, significantly reduces adherence and demand, while having no differential effect on beliefs and knowledge. 

Working Paper coming soon!

Peer Evaluation in Tournaments with Martin Dufwenberg and Katja Görlitz

We want to win, but we also care about our reputation. We conduct a psychological game-theoretic analysis of the tradeoff between increasing ones chances of winning a tournament and not being identified as a cheater by fellow contestants. We extend the model by Dufwenberg & Dufwenberg (2018) on perceived cheating aversion to a multi-player setting with subjective performance evaluations. We then test the model predictions
in a lab experiment.

She Could Not Agree More: The Role of Failure Attribution in Shaping the Gender Gap in Competition Persistence with Manar Alnamlah

In competitive and high-reward domains such as corporate leadership and entrepreneurship, women are not only underrepresented but they are also more likely to drop-out after failure. In this study, we conducted a laboratory experiment to investigate the influence of attributing failure to one of the three causal attributions - luck, effort, and ability - on the gender difference in competition persistence. Participants compete in a real effort task and then their success or failure is attributed to one of three causal attributions. We find significant gender differences in competition persistence when failure is attributed to a lack of ability, with women dropping out more. On the contrary, when suggested that failure was due to lack of luck, women’s competition persistence after failure increases relative to men. We find no gender difference when failure is attributed to a lack of effort. Our findings have important implications for designing feedback mechanisms to reduce the gender gap in competitive domains.


Gender differences in submission strategies? A survey of early-career economists with Katrine Thornfeld Sørensen 

We investigate whether the gender gap in economic publications can be explained by different submission strategies of male and female economists. We conduct an online survey among early-career economics faculty of top 50 institutions focusing on the submission trajectories of job market papers as well as personal and institutional characteristics. Our results suggest that there are no significant differences in submission strategies for this early-career sample.