Intervening in Other People’s Choices: The Supply and Demand for Decision Rights
Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM (PDT)
- Chair: Chloe Tergiman, Pennsylvania State University
The Impact of Agency on Time and Risk Preferences
AbstractScholars have long argued for the central role of agency in the human experience. In this paper, we demonstrate the importance of agency in shaping people’s patience and risk tolerance. We focus on the context of resource scarcity, which has been associated with both impatience and a lack of agency. Using data from a representative sample of over 86,000 individuals worldwide and two experiments, we replicate the decrease in patience among those exposed to scarcity. However, we show that endowing individuals with agency over scarcity fully moderates this effect, increasing patience substantially. We further show that agency’s impact on patience is partly driven by greater risk tolerance. These results hold even though individuals with greater agency do not exercise it; simply knowing one could alleviate one’s scarcity is sufficient to change behavior. Finally, we demonstrate that these effects of agency generalize beyond scarcity, highlighting the potential for agency-based policy and institutional design.
AbstractWe study when, why, and how people intervene in others' choices with paternalistic objectives. In our experiment, Choice Architects construct choice sets containing bundles of time-indexed payments for Choosers. Choice Architects frequently withhold options to prevent impatient choices, in spite of ample opportunities to provide advice, believing their interventions benefit the Choosers. How do Choice Architects decide which choices to prevent? A conventional behavioral welfarist acts as a benevolent and correctly informed social planner; an introspective paternalist tries to help others avoid choices she wishes she could reject when making decisions for herself; and a projective paternalist seeks to bring others' choices in line with her own. We find that projective paternalism provides the best rationalization for observed interventions by Choice Architects. We also show that projective paternalism in the laboratory coincides with support for actual paternalistic policies.
On the Roots of the Intrinsic Value of Decision Rights: Experimental Evidence
AbstractThis paper aims to investigate the motives behind an intrinsic value of decision rights. Based on a series of experimental treatments conducted in France and Japan, we measure how much of such potential value stems from (i) a desire for independence from others, (ii) a desire for power, or (iii) a desire for self-reliance. We find that both Japanese and French subjects attach a significant intrinsic value to hold control. Surprisingly, we find that self-reliance is the only significant motive behind it in both countries.
Georgia State University
University of Toronto
California Institute of Technology
- C9 - Design of Experiments
- D9 - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics