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. You can go here for a slightly longer introduction to my work and here for selected summaries of my papers.
PhD in economics, 2014
Erasmus University Rotterdam
MSc in behavioural economics, 2009
University of Nottingham
MSc in sociology and social research, 2008
BSc in sociology, 2006
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.
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.
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 described by an agent quantal response model with limited foresight, where a sizable proportion of the contestants myopically consider the next stage of the game only. In line with learning, the quality of contestants’ choices improves over the course of our sample period.
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.