NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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William Morrison

University of California at Berkeley
530 Evans Hall
MC #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: UC Berkeley

NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2019Rules of Thumb and Attention Elasticities: Evidence from Under- and Overreaction to Taxes
with Dmitry Taubinsky: w26180
This paper develops and implements a series of tests of costly attention mechanisms in consumers’ misreaction to opaque prices. We show that costly attention models make a series of predictions about individual differences in how the sign and magnitude of mistakes vary with stakes. We then test and confirm these predictions in an experiment on consumers’ online shopping decisions in the presence of shrouded sales taxes that are exogenously varied within consumer over time. The collection of empirical results implies that consumers use heterogeneous rules of thumb to compute the opaque tax when the stakes are low, but use costly mental effort to increase the accuracy of their assessment of the total price when the stakes increase. In particular, some consumers systematically underreact to s...
March 2019The Deadweight Loss of Social Recognition
with Luigi Butera, Robert Metcalfe, Dmitry Taubinsky: w25637
A growing body of empirical work shows that social recognition of individuals' behavior can meaningfully influence individuals’ choices. This paper studies whether social recognition is a socially efficient lever for influencing individuals’ choices. Because social recognition generates utility from esteem to some but disutility from shame to others, it can be either positive-sum, zero-sum, or negative-sum. This depends on whether the social recognition utility function is convex, linear, or concave, respectively. We develop a new revealed preferences methodology to investigate this question, which we deploy in a field experiment on promoting attendance to the YMCA of the Triangle Area. We find that social recognition increases YMCA attendance by 17-23% over a one-month period in our exper...
 
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