I am a PhD Candidate in Economics at the University of Warwick. In fall 2018 I visited the Center for Experimental Social Science (CESS) at New York University.
My research interests are Behavioral and Experimental Economics. In particular, I work on two broad areas. First, I am interested in overconfidence and the role played by motivated beliefs. Second, I study the role of emotions in decision-making and strategic interactions.
with Alessandro Bucciol
In high pressure situations, individuals may perform well below expectations. This is called ``choking under pressure" and we study it in the context of a competitive sports environment. We construct a unique dataset on archery to study whether performance deteriorates at the end of a match, when two players compete in a tiebreak. Our results suggest that pressure plays a key role: overall performance deteriorates in the tiebreak. This effect is even more pronounced in the tiebreak of the most important tournaments, but only for women.
With Renke Schmacker
We investigate how individuals search for ego-relevant information and then update their beliefs. In our lab experiment, subjects can select the information structure that gives them feedback regarding their rank in the IQ distribution (ego-relevant treatment) or regarding a random number (control treatment). We find that individuals in the ego-relevant treatment select information structures in which negative feedback is less salient. When receiving such negative feedback with lower salience they update their beliefs less, but only when feedback is ego-relevant. Hence, subjects select information structures that allow them to misinterpret negative feedback in a self-serving way. Moreover, individuals in the ego-relevant feedback choose less informative feedback.
Is the Fundamental Attribution Error Really "Fundamental"?
When people try to explain the behavior or performance of others they tend to underweight the influence of situational constraints. This tendency is considered so pervasive that it has been labeled the Fundamental Attribution Error. The potential importance of this error for business and economics is widely recognized. Even though the error is considered almost a truism in psychology the evidence is not always fully convincing. Often it is impossible to assess whether the beliefs expressed by the participants are in fact an error. In the current paper we present an experimental test which remedies this concern. Participants receive a noisy signal about the performance of an actor on a task and determine whether this signal is informative about the actor's ability or about the difficulty of the task (the situational constraint). Our results provide no evidence for the fundamental attribution error. Participants process information in a even-handed manner and do not display any tendency to underestimate the relative influence of the situational factor. This suggests that the fundamental attribution error does not derive from a fundamentally different weighting of different causal factors (dispositional versus situational) but from a difference in the salience, availability, or reliability of the situational information.
The Ego is No Fool: Absence of Motivated Belief Formation in Strategic Interactions
Solo-authored, draft available upon request
I investigate whether individuals are more easily fooled by others when they enhance their personal characteristics and abilities. Individuals may want to believe good news about themselves, even if it comes from people who will gain economically from inducing such beliefs. In fact, literature in economics and psychology suggests that motivated belief formation may shape economic interactions. I use an experiment in which participants complete an IQ test and then play a sender-receiver game. The experiment has a 2x2 factorial design. First, I determine the state either by the receiver's relative performance or by a randomly drawn number. Second, monetary incentives, which are common knowledge, are such that the sender is better off (worse off) when the receiver's action is about him being of high (low) rank, while the receiver benefits from selecting the action that matches his true rank. I find that receivers are not more likely to believe senders when they provide news that carries positive information about themselves, compared to the cases in which the news carries no ego-relevant information or negative information about their IQ. These results reveal important boundary conditions to motivated belief formation.
In many settings, economic outcomes depend on the competence and effort of the agents involved, and also on luck. When principals assess agents' performance they can suffer from attribution bias by gender: male agents may be assessed more favorably than female agents because males will be rewarded for good luck, while women are punished for bad luck. We conduct a laboratory experiment to test whether principals judge agents' outcomes differently by gender. Agents perform tasks for the principals and the realized outcomes depend on both the agents' performance and luck. Principals then assess agents' performance and decide what to pay the agents. Our experimental results do not show evidence consistent with attribution bias by gender. While principals' payments and beliefs about agent performance are heavily influenced by realized outcomes, they do not depend on the gender of the agent. Our evidence suggests that the interaction between the gender of the principal and the agent plays a role. In particular, principals are more generous to agents of the opposite gender.
with Eugenio Proto
Anger is an important driver in shaping economic activities, particularly in instances that involve strategic interactions between individuals. Here we test whether anger impairs the capacity to think strategically, and we analyze the implications of our result on bargaining and cooperation games. Accordingly, with a preregistered experiment (Experiment 1), we externally induce anger in a subgroup of subjects following a standard procedure that we verify by using a novel method of text analysis. We show that anger can impair the capacity to think strategically in a beauty contest game. Angry subjects choose numbers further away from the Nash equilibrium, and earn significantly lower profits. A structural analysis estimates that there are twice as much level-zero players in the treated group than in the control group. Furthermore, with a second preregistered experiment (Experiment 2), we show that this effect is not common to all negative emotions. Sad subjects do not play significantly further away from the Nash equilibrium than the control group in the same beauty contest game of Experiment 1, and sadness does not lead to more level-zero play.
Demand for information by Gender: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment
We study gender differences in the demand for information about one's performance. In a lab experiment, all participants are asked to solve a quiz. They are then asked to choose between two information structures from which to receive feedback. Feedback is about their ranking in the quiz and one information structure provides more informative feedback than the other. In a between-subject design, we vary the implications of receiving information from the most informative information structure. We find that women are 20 p.p. more likely than men to choose the less informative information structure (even after controlling for prior beliefs) because they do not want to receive information about their own true rank although posterior beliefs are incentivized. The gender gap vanishes in the treatment where there are strategic considerations to hide one's own (low) performance. This closing of the gap is entirely driven by men's reaction to the strategic incentives in the environment.
University of Warwick
October 2017 - October 2021
Fall 2018 - Visiting Scholar at CESS - New York University
University of Warwick
Master of Research
October 2015 - October 2017
Final Mark: Distinction
Master of Science
August 2014 - August 2015
Final Mark: Cum Laude - 8.6/10
Netspar Best MSc Thesis Award - €3,000
University of Trento
Bachelor of Science
Economics & Management
September 2011 - July 2014
Final Mark: Cum Laude 110/110
Studied at Durham University in the 2013-2014 academic year (Erasmus Exchange Program)
Took part in the "Excellence Program"
April 2017 - October 2017
Behavioral and Experimental Economist at London Economics. At London Economics I have worked as an Economic Analyst applying behavioral insights to help public and private sector clients understand consumer decision-making in a wide variety of domains. In particular, I have worked on the design of large scale online experiments, their implementation, the analyses of the results, and their dissemination to both expert and non-expert audiences.