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. You can go here for a slightly longer introduction to my work and here for selected summaries of my papers.

You can download my CV here, my research statement here, and my teaching statement here.

New paper: “High-Stakes Failures of Backward Induction: Evidence from The Price Is Right


  • 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: Evidence from “The Price Is Right”

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.

Gender and Willingness to Compete for High Stakes

Willingness-to-compete experiments typically use small stakes, which raises the question of whether the commonly observed lower competitiveness of women can be generalized to consequential real-world situations. The present paper examines gender differences in willingness to compete using a high-stakes TV game show. At several stages, contestants face a choice between continuing to compete and opting out in exchange for a comparatively modest prize. When strategic considerations are absent, we observe the well-known pattern that women are less likely to compete than men, but this difference derives entirely from women avoiding competition against men. When the decision is strategic and contestants should factor in the competitiveness of others, women again avoid competing against men. Men then seem to anticipate the lower competitiveness of female opponents, as evidenced by their greater tendency to compete against women. Ability differences are unlikely to explain these results. These findings show that the gender difference in willingness to compete also occurs in a setting with exceptionally high stakes, and underline the importance of the gender of competitors, a factor that is mostly ignored in the literature. Our results are particularly relevant for understanding the persistent gender gap at the male-dominated higher rungs of the career ladder.


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.