Laboratoire d'Expérimentation en Sciences Sociales et Analyse des Comportements

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Eli Spiegelman



I am an Assistant Professor in Management. My research is experimental behavioral economics. The basic philosophy of behavioral determination I follow is that human hehaviour is based on a small number of "hard-wired", dispositions, determined on a time-scale of millennia. I believe four are enough for most purposes: reciprocity, rank or status comparison, rule following, and efficiency or social welfare concerns, in addition to the standard one, of private consumption. Over the shorter, cultural time-scale – within a particular lifetime – people learn "appropriate" ways to channel these dispositions into behavior. On an even shorter time-scale – each time a new action is required – they interpret their possible choices based on the cultural norms they have internalized. Behavior therefore represents an interpretation of how the various cultural responses to basic biological impulses are best expressed in the current decision context. The goal of my research is to study how people effect this interpretation, and what affects the interpretations they make.
Particular interests involve honesty and lying – notably self-deception and wishful thinking – and the effect of group identity on behavior. Avenues by which I have been exploring these issues include (1) measures attention to different characteristics of a decision problem as a determinant of their relative weight in the actions chosen; and (2) dynamics of repeated interaction based on evolutionary game theory.
The methodology consists of two facets. First, from assumptions drawn out of the "philosophy" above, I apply the standard economic methodology of deducing optimal behavior given a set of possible actions, and some ranking criterion to order them. Second, I confront these theoretical results (or predictions, based on the assumptions made) to empirical experimental data. Thus I try to maintain a theory-driven empirical research paradigm.