Working Papers

People misperceive future valuations through projection. These misperceptions matter for intertemporal choice and affect inferences about time preferences.

This paper presents experimental and survey evidence that projective misperceptions—the tendency to project one’s current valuations or states onto the future—generate behavior that can be systematically misattributed to time preferences. Results from a real-effort experiment show that individuals’ intertemporal choice is primarily driven by the projection of randomized decision states rather than by time discounting. This observed state dependence leads to up to 44 percent variation in time preference estimates, but can be remedied by experience-based learning. These findings imply that time preference estimates are inherently context-dependent and have implications for policy design to address apparent self-control problems

Consumers prefer sellers who support consumers' values. Sellers anticipate this, and they respond by expressing support for these values but only when there are potential gains from trade.

We study market participants’ concerns for the ideological values promoted by their counterparts in market exchange. Using a survey, an online experiment and a laboratory experiment, we investigate whether consumers prefer to purchase from counterparts whose behavior indicates support for the consumers’ values—even when those values are unrelated to the product or transaction—and whether sellers anticipate and respond to such concerns by taking public actions in support of consumers’ values. We document two key findings supporting these relationships. First, consumers prefer and are willing to pay more to exchange with counterparts whose actions support the consumers’ values, even when the consumers’ purchasing decisions have no instrumental impact on the promotion of those values. Second, when sellers anticipate the possibility of benefitting from such exchange, they take public actions in support of consumers’ values. Our findings question the typical assumption that market exchange is impersonal and suggest that opportunities for market interaction may promote and shape public support for ideological values.

Work in Progress

The Persistent Effect of Biased Narratives (joint with Manwei Liu)

People are swayed by biased narratives, even if they know the bias and the random allocation of these biased narratives. Further consumption of information does not help.

Can people counteract biased narratives—the qualitative interpretation of objective facts or events—through subsequent information acquisition? Using an online experiment, we investigate this question by first randomly assigning participants to read different narratives that contain the same facts, and then offering them the opportunity to acquire more balanced arguments. We document three main findings. First, participants shift their attitudes towards the standpoint of the randomly assigned narrative, knowing that the narrative is biased and randomly assigned. Second, the opportunity to read additional arguments does not prompt participants to adjust their attitudes shaped by the original narrative. Third, when evaluating subsequent arguments, participants see arguments aligned with the randomly assigned narrative as more convincing, which likely contributes to their inability to counteract biased narratives. Taken together, our results demonstrate a persistent effect of biased narratives in a setting where counteracting is given the best chance.