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ESRA 2023 Glance Program

All time references are in CEST

Surveying or gaming: How to best measure socio-economic behaviors and attitudes? 1

Session Organisers Mr Jakob Jonathan Kemper (University of Duisburg-Essen)
Dr Jan Karem Höhne (University of Duisburg-Essen)
Professor Achim Goerres (University of Duisburg-Essen)
TimeWednesday 19 July, 09:00 - 10:30
Room U6-01c

People’s socio-economic behaviors and attitudes are of key interest in a variety of scientific disciplines, including, but not limited to, social, political, psychological, and economic research. These disciplines partially differ with respect to their measurement methods. On the one hand, there are many researchers that rely on indirect behavioral and attitudinal measures from large-scale sample surveys. On the other hand, there are also many researchers that rely on more direct measures from behavioral games, such as the dictator, solidarity, and trust games, that are commonly conducted in labs with small convenience samples. Considering the eminent literature, there is some conventional wisdom about the merits and limits of both measurement methods. For example, survey measures are frequently criticized for their hypothetical touch and that they do not decently mirror people’s real socio-economic behaviors and attitudes. Behavioral games, in contrast, are frequently criticized for their artificial settings and samples, which impedes drawing conclusions beyond the studies. Despite this conventional wisdom, there is only a small body of research investigating and evaluating the soundness of both measurement methods. In this session, we therefore invite scientific contributions that present experimental and/or non-experimental research on measuring socio-economic behaviors and attitudes in a variety of research settings (e.g., lab or field) and modes (e.g., in-person or online). We also welcome mixed-method contributions that, for example, combine surveys and games to improve the measurement of socio-economic behaviors and attitudes.

Keywords: socio-economic behaviors and attitudes, experiments, observational studies, behavioral games, interdisciplinary research


What is the effect of norm transparency on solidarity behavior? A cross-national experiment

Professor Achim Goerres (Universität Duisburg-Essen)
Mr Jakob Jonathan Kemper (Universität Duisburg-Essen) - Presenting Author
Dr Jan Karem Höhne (Universität Duisburg-Essen)
Professor Markus Tepe (Universität Oldenburg)

Understanding the effects of transparency on compliance with social norms is vital to human cooperation. Transparency is usually regarded as a desirable normative property in democratic decision-making, ignoring that transparency about uncooperative agents can also crowd out good intentions. Therefore, this study tests how transparency about the norm of solidarity within a social group impacts solidarity behavior. It is argued that lacking transparency leads to moderate but stable levels of solidary, while transparency leads to unstable levels of high or low solidarity. To test these expectations, respondents play the Selten and Ockenfels (1998) solidarity game with ten repetitions in partner-matching with monetary rewards. In the limited transparency conditions, respondents are informed about their payoff and the payoff of their group members. In the full transparency condition, participants are informed about their payoffs and the solidarity behavior of their group members. The control group gets no feedback at all. The web-based interactive experiment is conducted on representative samples from Austria and Germany (N ~ 2,200). Findings of the pre-registered experiment will be presented, and their theoretical implications will be discussed.

The effect of priming national identity on attitudinal and behavioral solidarity in a diverse society

Mr Jakob Jonathan Kemper (Universität Duisburg-Essen) - Presenting Author

Research shows that citizens with a stronger national identity are more willing to redistribute within the nation. Exposure to national/regional symbols (e.g. flags) can increase solidarity within the national/regional in-group, especially in citizens strongly identifying with the nation/region. This study tests the effect of priming national identity through exposure to the national flag on participants’ attitudinal and behavioral European solidarity. I conduct a preregistered online experiment using oTree in February and March 2023, funded by the European Research Council. The sample consists of German citizens without a migration background, German citizens with a migration background, and Non-German residents of Germany, and is recruited in Duisburg (N ~ 200 / group). Participants are assigned to treatments with either no flag or the German flag visible in the webpage header. Dependent variables are attitudinal and behavioral solidarity. Attitudinal solidarity is measured with survey items. Behavioral solidarity is measured with financial contributions in a dictator game (to co-citizens with/out a migration background and non-citizens). Results provide novel insights into the effect of national identity on the willingness to shoulder costs of solidarity in increasingly diverse societies.

One Value-Action Gap or Many? On the Discrepancy Between Environmental Attitudes and Behavior Across Laboratory, Field, and Survey Measures

Dr Georg Kanitsar (Vienna University of Economics and Business) - Presenting Author
Dr Roman Hoffmann (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA))
Mr Marcel Seifert (Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS)

Although the majority of European citizens are concerned about environmental issues, less than half report taking action to reduce human impacts on the climate. Previous work has documented this value-action gap across various environmental contexts. Yet up to now, the robustness of the individual value-action gap across different domains and measurement methods is poorly established. In line, it remains unclear if the phenomenon should be regarded as an individually stable trait or as determined by situational circumstances. In this paper, we compare the value-action gaps of individuals across an online behavioral experiment, a realistic field scenario, and survey questionnaires.
We ran an online behavioral experiment administering a collective-risk social dilemma game (n=802). To calculate the value-action gap, we compare participants’ moral statements prior to participation with their actual contributions in the game. We conducted a field experiment with the same individuals and elicited their willingness to donate to environmental charities six weeks after participation. Finally, we collected their responses to a survey questionnaire on environmental attitudes and behavior.
A preliminary analysis demonstrates that individuals with larger value-action gaps in the behavioral experiment displayed stronger discrepancies between attitudes and behavior in the field scenario. The association of the survey measures with the other indicators hinges on the observability of reported behaviors (public/ private) and the motivational basis of environmental concerns (altruistic/ biospheric). We conclude that the value-action gap indeed appears to be an individually stable phenomenon. The same individuals fail to translate pro-environmental values into actual decisions in the behavioral experiment and the field scenario. Simultaneously, the findings also point to the multidimensionality of the value-action gap. While the behavioral experiment captures the social dimension of the value-action gap, the field measure relates more strongly to ecological considerations of participants.

The measurement of risk aversion

Professor Axel Franzen (University of Bern) - Presenting Author
Ms Ann-Lea Buzzi (University of Bern)
Mr Sebastian Mader (University of Bern)

Risk aversion plays an important role in economic and many other life choices. The literature provides different scales to measure individual attitudes towards risk. We compare the 10-item scale by Dahlbäck (1990) that measures self-declared risk taking to a single survey item that asks the respondents about their willingness to take risks in general as it is implemented in the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). To test the validity of these two measures, we conducted an incentivized lottery choice experiment, in which the participants had to decide in 15 rounds between a safe payment and playing a lottery. While the option of a safe payment increased in every round in increments of 1 CHF up to 15 CHF in the last round, the chances to win 20 CHF or receive 0 CHF in the lottery had the same probability of 0.5 in every round. The experiment was conducted with a student sample (N= 500). Hence, the sample was quite homogenous regarding age and educational background. The results show that about 42% of the respondents are risk averse and prefer not to play the lottery, even though the expected value in the lottery is higher. Furthermore, the single-item measurement has better predictive power of the actual risk behavior as compared to the 10-item scale. Additionally, according to all three measurements, we find that females are more risk averse than males. This supports the findings of previous studies about risk aversion. Moreover, our findings suggest that risk aversion is positively associated with the perception of environmental risks which has been measured separately.