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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FRAMING_EFFECTS (Experimental Analysis of Framing Effects via Observation of Decision-Making Processes to Improve the Real-World Applicability of Decision Research in Economics)
H2020

FRAMING_EFFECTS Report Summary

Project ID: 658186
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FRAMING_EFFECTS (Experimental Analysis of Framing Effects via Observation of Decision-Making Processes to Improve the Real-World Applicability of Decision Research in Economics)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2017-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The project studied aspects of the experimental methodology used in behavioural economics, and behavioural science more broadly, to study human behaviour under controlled conditions. Experimental protocols provide written instructions to explain the decision situation to participants. By necessity, these name or describe the decision situation or the experimental context. Seemingly innocuous choices of phrases in these descriptions may have behavioural consequences, which we refer to as “label framing effects”. Label frames can also be intentionally manipulated, for example to experimentally study behavioural differences in public good maintenance vs. provision or to enhance cooperation by making salient benefits to self or to society. The overall objective of the project was to devise and implement a series of experiments to study and explain these label framing effects. Understanding framing effects in general may lead to advances in policy-making with potentially large societal impact. Important recent examples include Richard Thaler’s Nobel prize winning work on “nudges” that target behavioural change via changes to the presentation of otherwise identical set of options available to consumers, workers, students, etc.

The experiments conducted during the action have provided significant insights into the workings of framing effects. The fellowship led to substantial positive influences on the development of the researcher’s career and enabled a successful career transition towards becoming an established experimental economist by providing opportunities to create a lively network of research collaborations as well as significant knowledge transfers.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Four experiments on framing effects were conducted:

“Abstract, concrete & social framing of the public good game” with Daniele Nosenzo & Chris Starmer

“Explaining the behavioural differences in public good maintenance and provision” with Simon Gächter, John Maule & Chris Starmer

“Framing effects on influenza vaccination decisions: A field experiment in a research hospital in Turkey” with Burcu Isler, Orestis Kopsacheilis & Eamonn Ferguson

“A framed ultimatum game to study in/out group bias” with Ori Weisel

In addition, the action provided opportunities to network, culminating in the following three experimental projects:
“Explaining the economics and psychology of dishonesty via identification at the individual level” with Simon Gächter
“Honesty, peer-effects and openness to social influence” with Simon Gächter
“The description – experience gap in social context” with Orestis Kopsacheilis & Dennie van Dolder

Finally, the action made possible the following replication project, designed as a preparatory experiment:

“Is intuition really cooperative? Improved tests support the social heuristics hypothesis” with John Maule & Chris Starmer

The five experimental projects conducted towards the fellowship goal have provided significant insights into the workings of framing effects. Overall, these projects indicate that framing effects may work via changes in social norm perceptions, a result beyond the state of the art. Likewise, contrary to expectations based on the literature, and especially in real-life contexts where people are sensitive to risks, frames focusing on other-regarding attitudes may not enhance cooperative behaviour as compared to frames that make self-regard salient. In addition, our research confirms that cooperation is weaker in situations of public good maintenance (e.g., antibiotic consumption) than it is for public good provision (e.g., charity contributions for cancer research) due to weakness of reciprocal behaviour in the former. Importantly, in one of these projects, we have provided the first independent experimental evidence that intuitive decisions are indeed more cooperative, as recently hypothesized yet widely contested. The result has been presented in various conferences and is currently under review for publication.

The fellowship provided immense opportunities for training, networking, research and dissemination. During the fellowship period, the researcher completed the design and implementation phases of five projects towards the fellowship goal of understanding framing effects. The design and data collection of three additional experimental projects were finished during this period, which were a result of the networking and dissemination activities pursued during this period. The eight separate experimental projects, considerably more than the three projects initially proposed, are conducted in collaboration with nine different scholars many of whom are leaders in their fields, and they attest to the successful use of the fellowship resources towards and beyond the fellowship objectives.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Data collection of all eight projects has been completed. Results of the first four indicate that framing effects may work via changes in social norm perceptions, a result beyond the state of the art. Likewise, contrary to expectations based on the literature, and especially in real-life contexts where people are sensitive to risks, frames focusing on other-regarding attitudes may not increase cooperation as compared to frames that make self-regard salient. In addition, our research confirms that cooperation is weaker in situations of public good maintenance (e.g. antibiotic consumption) than it is for public good provision (e.g. charity contributions for cancer research) due to weakness of reciprocal behaviour in the former. In a separate project, we have provided the first independent experimental evidence that intuitive decisions are indeed more cooperative, as recently hypothesized yet widely contested.

The last project summarized above is currently under review. The others are in early stages of writing and dissemination. As such, the impact of the action is expected to increase within two years after the completion of the fellowship period.

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