Christine L. Exley
Harvard Business School
25 Baker Way
Baker Library 449
Boston, MA 02163
Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|December 2019||Motivated Errors|
with Judd B. Kessler: w26595
In three sets of experiments involving over 4,200 subjects, we show that agents motivated to be selfish make systematic decision errors of the kind generally attributed to cognitive limitations or behavioral biases. We show that these decision errors are eliminated (or dramatically reduced) when self-serving motives are removed. We say that individuals make "motivated errors." They make decision errors, but only when it is self-serving to do so.
|October 2019||The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion|
with Judd B. Kessler: w26345
In applications, interviews, performance reviews, and many other environments, individuals are explicitly asked or implicitly invited to assess their own performance. In a series of experiments, we find that women rate their performance less favorably than equally performing men. This gender gap in self-promotion is notably persistent. It stays just as strong when we: eliminate gender differences in confidence about performance, eliminate incentives to self-promote, provide information about the average self-promotion of others, and make environments more ambiguous. Because of the prevalence of self-promotion opportunities, this self-promotion gap may contribute to persistent gender gaps in education and labor market outcomes.
|December 2018||Equity Concerns are Narrowly Framed|
with Judd B. Kessler: w25326
We show that individuals narrowly bracket their equity concerns. Across four experiments including 1,600 subjects, individuals equalize components of payoffs rather than overall payoffs. When earnings are comprised of "small tokens" worth 1 cent and "large tokens" worth 2 cents, subjects frequently equalize the distribution of small (or large) tokens rather than equalizing total earnings. When payoffs are comprised of time and money, subjects similarly equalize the distribution of time (or money) rather than total payoffs. In addition, subjects are more likely to equalize time than money. These findings can help explain a variety of behavioral phenomena including the structure of social insurance programs, patterns of public good provision, and why transactions that turn money into time ar...
|December 2016||Knowing When to Ask: The Cost of Leaning In|
with Muriel Niederle, Lise Vesterlund: w22961
Gender differences in the propensity to negotiate are often used to explain the gender wage gap, popularizing the push for women to “lean-in.” We use a laboratory experiment to examine the effect of leaning-in. Despite men and women achieving similar and positive returns when they must negotiate, we find that women avoid negotiations more often than men. While this suggests that women would benefit from leaning-in, a direct test of the counterfactual proves otherwise. Women appear to positively select into negotiations and to know when to ask. By contrast, we find no significant evidence of a positive selection for men.