Dennie van Dolder

Senior Lecturer in Economics

University of Essex


I am a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Economics at the University of Essex . I am the director of the Essex Centre for Experimental Social Sciences and of ESSEXLab , the state-of-the-art behavioral laboratory at the Faculty of Social Sciences . In addition, I serve as an Associate Editor at Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization .

I am a behavioral economist. In my research, I use a broad portfolio of research methods–including experiments and advanced microeconometric techniques–to further our understanding of human judgment and decision making. Whereas most empirical research in this area relies on experiments or surveys, I often employ large and rich data sets from carefully selected field settings that can be characterized as natural (or “naturally occurring”) experiments.

Here you can read a slightly longer introduction to my work and here you can find selected summaries of my papers. Furthermore, here are my CV, my Google Scholar profile , and my Parkrun profile .

New papers:


  • Applied microeconomics
  • Behavioral economics
  • Experimental economics
  • Game theory
  • Information aggregation
  • Risk and uncertainty


  • PhD in economics, 2014

    Erasmus University Rotterdam

  • MSc in behavioural economics, 2009

    University of Nottingham

  • MSc in sociology and social research, 2008

    Utrecht University

  • BSc in sociology, 2006

    Utrecht University

All Publications

Does Losing Lead to Winning? An Empirical Analysis for Four Sports. Management Science, forthcoming, 2022.

Summary Journal article Download from SSRN

Can the Market Divide and Multiply? A Case of 807 Percent Mispricing. Review of Behavioral Finance, 2022.

Journal article Download from SSRN

Nudging Student Participation in Online Evaluations of Teaching: Evidence from a Field Experiment. European Economic Review, 2022.

Journal article Working paper on SSRN

Prince: An Improved Method for Measuring Incentivized Preferences. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 2021.

Journal article Download from SSRN

Incentives, Performance and Choking in Darts. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2020.

Journal article Working paper on SSRN

Malleable Lies: Communication and Cooperation in a High Stakes TV Game Show. Management Science, 2019.

Summary Journal article Working paper on SSRN

The Evil Eye: Eye Gaze and Competitiveness in Social Decision Making. European Journal of Social Psychology, 2018.

Journal article Working paper on SSRN Blog: The Conversation

Comparing Uncertainty Aversion Towards Different Sources. Theory and Decision, 2017.

Journal article Working paper on SSRN

Number Preferences in Lotteries. Judgment and Decision Making, 2016.

Journal article Working paper on SSRN Media: Wall Street Journal Media: NOS (Dutch) Media: Algemeen Dagblad (Dutch) Media: BNR (Dutch)

Risky Choice in the Limelight. Review of Economics and Statistics, 2016.

Journal article Working paper on SSRN Media: Financial Times Media: The Times Blog: The Conversation

Standing United or Falling Divided? High Stakes Bargaining in a TV Game Show. American Economic Review, P&P, 2015.

Journal article Working paper on SSRN

Coöperatie in Spelshows (Cooperation in Game Shows). In Samenwerking in sociale dilemma’s; Voorbeelden van Nederlands onderzoek, 2012.

Download from SSRN

Social Motives in Network Formation: An Experiment. In Proceedings of the 2009 International Conference on Game Theory for Networks, 2009.

Download from SSRN

Working Papers

High-Stakes Failures of Backward Induction

We examine high-stakes strategic choice using more than 40 years of data from the American TV game show The Price Is Right. In every episode, contestants play the Showcase Showdown, a sequential game of perfect information for which the optimal strategy can be found through backward induction. We find that contestants systematically deviate from the subgame perfect Nash equilibrium. These departures from optimality are well explained by a modified agent quantal response model that allows for limited foresight. The results suggest that many contestants simplify the decision problem by adopting a myopic representation and optimize their chances of beating the next contestant only. In line with learning, the quality of contestants’ choices improves over the course of our sample period.

Behavioral Risk Profiling: Measuring Loss Aversion of Individual Investors

Loss aversion has been shown to be an important driver of people’s investment decisions. Encouraged by regulators, financial institutions are in search of ways to incorporate clients’ loss aversion in their risk classifications. The most critical obstacle appears to be the lack of a valid measurement method for loss aversion that can be straightforwardly incorporated into existing processes. This paper presents the results of two large-scale implementations of such a method within a risk-profiling application of an established financial institution. In total, we elicit loss aversion for 1,040 employees and 3,740 clients. We find that the observed distributions align with existing findings, and that loss aversion is largely independent of the risk-return preferences commonly used for investor classification. Furthermore, the correlations we observe between these two preferences and individuals’ background characteristics align with those observed in the literature. Loss aversion is strongly related to education—higher educated individuals being more loss averse—whereas risk aversion is strongly related to gender, age, and clients’ financial situation—women, more senior, and less wealthy participants being more risk averse. These findings support the conjecture that risk and loss aversion are complementary in capturing investor preferences.

The Description-Experience Gap in Cooperation

Conditional cooperation is usually investigated in experiments where the choices of others are known. In many circumstances, however, there is uncertainty about others’ cooperativeness. Using a novel experimental protocol, we manipulate the perceived likelihood of cooperation in a Prisoner’s Dilemma, and whether such information is described unambiguously or learned through experience and thus ambiguous. We report on a ‘description-experience gap’ in which rare events appear to be more influential under experience than under description. This contrasts with earlier results from the individual choice literature. We show how stronger priors under social than individual uncertainty can account for this reversal.

Gender and Willingness to Compete for High Stakes

We examine gender differences in willingness to compete, using data from a TV game show where the winner of an elimination competition in expectation wins hundreds of thousands of euros. At several stages of this competition, contestants face a choice between continuing to compete and opting out in exchange for a comparatively modest prize. When there is no strategic interaction, we observe the well-known pattern that women compete less than men, but this difference derives entirely from women avoiding competition against men. When there is strategic interaction and contestants should factor in the willingness to compete of their opponent, women again avoid competing against men. Men then seem to anticipate the lower competitiveness of female opponents, as evidenced by their greater propensity to compete against women. Ability differences are unlikely to explain these results. Our findings show that the gender difference in willingness to compete that is well-documented in the experimental economics literature also occurs in a quasi-experimental real-world setting with exceptionally high stakes, and underline the importance of the gender of competitors.


Currently, I have no teaching duties at the University of Essex.

At the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, I teach at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels.

At the bachelor level, I currently lecture in the course Behavioral Finance and Real Estate (BSc, 3rd year). This course provides a behavioral perspective on real estate decision-making and markets. Students learn how behavioral biases affect participants’ decisions in real estate markets and how the bounded rationality of market participants can explain real estate market dynamics. In the course, I provide students with a psychological perspective on negotiations, property valuations, and mortgage choices.

At the master level, I provide lectures in behavioral ethics and negotiation in the course Behavioral Finance. At the executive education level, I lecture on behavioral ethics in the program Compliance and Integrity Management.

Previously, I also supervised MSc theses on topics related to behavioral finance and provided tutorials in Finance (BSc, 2nd year). In this latter course, we build the foundation for the study of corporate finance and investments. The focus is on financial decision-making in theory and practice. Our coverage of core finance topics includes: i) capital budgeting, ii) asset pricing, and iii) financial investment.

During my Ph.D. at Erasmus University Rotterdam, I designed and taught tutorials in behavioral economics and supervised both BSc and MSC thesis in topics related to behavioral economics and behavioral finance.