Dennie van Dolder

Assistant Professor

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


I am an assistant professor at the School of Business and Economics of the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam.

Click here for a short introduction to my work, and here for a selection of twitter endorsements by prominent academics. Furthermore, you can download my CV here , my research statement here , and my teaching statement here .

I am an applied micro-economist, with a special focus on behavioral economics. 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 judgment and decision making 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.

I am a research fellow at Tinbergen Institute , an external fellow at the Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics (CeDEx) at the University of Nottingham, and an associate editor at the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization .


  • January 29, 2021: Minor R&R for the paper "Do Descriptive Social Norms Drive Peer Punishment? Conditional Punishment Strategies and Their Impact on Cooperation" at Evolution & Human Behavior.
  • December 5, 2020: The paper "Prince: An Improved Method for Measuring Incentivized Preferences" has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.
  • November 23, 2020: Minor R&R for the paper "Does Losing Lead to Winning? An Empirical Analysis for Four Different Sports" at Management Science.
  • September 29, 2020: R&R for the paper "Nudging Student Participation in Online Evaluations of Teaching: Evidence from a Field Experiment" at the European Economic Review.


  • 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

Can the Market Divide and Multiply? A Case of 807 Percent Mispricing. Review of Behavioral Finance, forthcoming, 2020.

Journal article

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.

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

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.

Do Descriptive Social Norms Drive Peer Punishment? Conditional Punishment Strategies and Their Impact on Cooperation

Peer punishment is widely considered a key mechanism supporting cooperation in human groups. Although much research shows that human behavior is shaped by the prevailing social norms, little is known about how punishment decisions are impacted by the social context. We present a set of large-scale incentivized experiments in which participants (N=999) could punish their partner conditional on either the level of cooperation or the level of punishment displayed by others who previously interacted in the same setting. While many participants punish independently of levels of cooperation or punishment, a substantial portion punishes free riding more severely when cooperation is more common (‘norm enforcement’), or when free riding is more severely punished by others (‘conformist punishment’). With a dynamic model we demonstrate that conditional punishment strategies can substantially promote cooperation. In particular, conformist punishment helps cooperation to gain a foothold in a population, and norm enforcement helps to maintain cooperation at high levels. Our results provide solid empirical evidence of conditional punishment strategies and illustrate their possible implications for the dynamics of human cooperation.

Does Losing Lead to Winning? An Empirical Analysis for Four Different Sports

Berger and Pope (2011) show that being slightly behind increases the likelihood of winning in professional and collegiate basketball. We extend their analysis to large samples of Australian football, American football and rugby matches, but find little to no evidence of such an effect for these three sports. When we revisit the phenomenon for basketball, we do find supportive evidence for National Basketball Association (NBA) matches from the period analyzed in Berger and Pope. However, we find no significant effect for NBA matches from outside this sample period, for collegiate matches, and for matches from the Women’s NBA. High-powered meta-analyses across the different sports and competitions do not reject the null hypothesis of no effect of being slightly behind on winning.

Nudging Student Participation in Online Evaluations of Teaching: Evidence from a Field Experiment

This paper reports the results of a large randomized field experiment that investigates the extent to which nudges can stimulate student participation in teaching evaluations. Three different nudges were tested: (1) heightening students? perceived impact of teaching evaluations, (2) communicating a descriptive norm of high participation, and (3) using the commitment-consistency principle by asking students to commit to participation. We find that none of the nudges was effective: all treatment effects were insignificant and close to zero in magnitude. Exploring heterogeneous treatment effects, we find evidence that the effectiveness of the commitment treatment differed across students: it increased participation among students with good average grades, whereas it decreased participation for students whose grades were poor. Overall, our results add to the body of evidence that demonstrates that nudges may not always be as effective as suggested in the literature.

Prince: An Improved Method for Measuring Incentivized Preferences

This paper introduces the Prince incentive system for measuring preferences. Prince is a variation of the random incentive system that enhances isolation and makes incentive compatibility more transparent to subjects. It allows for the precise and direct elicitation of indifference values as with matching while having the clarity and validity of choice lists. Prince avoids the opaqueness of Becker-DeGroot-Marschak’s mechanism and precludes strategic behavior in adaptive experiments. Using Prince, we shed new light on willingness to accept and the major components of decision under uncertainty: utilities, subjective beliefs, and ambiguity attitudes. Prince outperforms a classical implementation of the random incentive system.


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 the decisions of participants in real estate markets, and how the bounded rationality of market participants can explain real estate market dynamics. In my part of the course, I provide students with a psychological perspective on negotiations, property valuations, and mortgage choices.

In addition, I provide tutorials in Finance (BSc, 2nd year). In this 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.

At the master level, I provide lectures in behavioral ethics and negotiation in the course Behavioral Finance. I also supervise MSc theses on topics related to behavioral finance.

At the executive education level, I lecture on behavioral ethics in the program Compliance and Integrity Management.

Before coming to the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, I designed and taught tutorials in behavioral economics and supervised both BSc and MSC thesis in topics related to behavioral economics and behavioral finance at Erasmus University Rotterdam.