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Nudged Towards Rationality: Probability Distortion with and without Expected Value

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This paper analyzes responses to a survey using a modified fourfold pattern of preference to determine if implicit information, once made explicit, is practically significant in nudging irrational decision makers towards more rational decisions. Respondents chose between two scenarios and

This paper analyzes responses to a survey using a modified fourfold pattern of preference to determine if implicit information, once made explicit, is practically significant in nudging irrational decision makers towards more rational decisions. Respondents chose between two scenarios and an option for indifference for each of the four questions from the fourfold pattern with expected value being implicit information. Then respondents were asked familiarity with expected value and given the same four questions again but with the expected value for each scenario then explicitly given. Respondents were asked to give feedback if their answers had changed and if the addition of the explicit information was the reason for that change. Results found the addition of the explicit information in the form of expected value to be practically significant with ~90% of respondents who changed their answers giving that for the reason. In the implicit section of the survey, three out of four of the questions had a response majority of lower expected value answers given compared to the alternative. In the explicit section of the survey, all four questions achieved a response majority of higher expected value answers given compared to the alternative. In moving from the implicit to the explicit section, for each question, the scenario with lower expected value experienced a decrease in percentage of responses, and the scenario with higher expected value and indifference between the scenarios both experienced an increase in percentage of responses.

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2019-05

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The Decision Behavior of Ant Colonies in Response to an Ebbinghaus Illusion

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Evolutionary theory predicts that animal behavior is generally governed by decision rules (heuristics) which adhere to ecological rationality: the tendency to make decisions that maximize fitness in most situations the animal encounters. However, the particular heuristics used by ant colonies

Evolutionary theory predicts that animal behavior is generally governed by decision rules (heuristics) which adhere to ecological rationality: the tendency to make decisions that maximize fitness in most situations the animal encounters. However, the particular heuristics used by ant colonies of the genus Temnothorax and their propensity towards ecological rationality are up for debate. These ants are adept at choosing a nest site, making a collective decision based on complex interactions between the many individual choices made by workers. Colonies will migrate between nests either upon the destruction of their current home or the discovery of a sufficiently superior nest. This study offers a descriptive analysis of the heuristics potentially used in nest-site decision-making. Colonies were offered a choice of nests characterized by the Ebbinghaus Illusion: a perceptual illusion which effectively causes the viewer to perceive a circle as larger when it is surrounded by small circles than when that same circle is surrounded by large circles. Colonies were separated into two conditions: in one, they were given the option to move to a high-quality nest surrounded by poor-quality nests, and in the other they were given the option to move to a high-quality nest surrounded by medium-quality nests. The colonies in the poor condition were found to be more likely to move to the good nest than were colonies in the medium condition at a statistically significant level. That is, they responded to the Ebbinghaus Effect in the way that is normally expected. This result was discussed in terms of its implications for the ecological rationality of the nest-site choice behavior of these ants.

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2014-05

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Graduate Education: Perception vs. Reality

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In recent years, the number of applications for admission to graduate education programs has increased. Researchers attempted to gain insight into this increase by examining student perception of the costs and benefits of pursuing graduate-level education. In order to gauge

In recent years, the number of applications for admission to graduate education programs has increased. Researchers attempted to gain insight into this increase by examining student perception of the costs and benefits of pursuing graduate-level education. In order to gauge this perception, researchers administered an online survey to 151 subjects from Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. Student perception was then compared to data released by ASU detailing actual costs and benefits of obtaining graduate-level education. Researchers' prediction that increased levels of parental education would be associated with more accurate estimates of the benefits of graduate-level education was correct at a statistically significant level. Further, being male was statistically significantly associated with an increase in starting salary overestimation.

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2015-05

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A Behavioral Economic Exploration of Risk and Loss Aversions Among College Students

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The field of behavioral economics explores the ways in which individuals make choices under uncertainty, in part, by examining the role that risk attitudes play in a person’s efforts to maximize their own utility. This thesis aims to contribute to

The field of behavioral economics explores the ways in which individuals make choices under uncertainty, in part, by examining the role that risk attitudes play in a person’s efforts to maximize their own utility. This thesis aims to contribute to the body of economic literature regarding risk attitudes by first evaluating the traditional economic method for discerning risk coefficients by examining whether students provide reasonable answers to lottery questions. Second, the answers of reasonable respondents are subject to our economic model using the CRRA utility function in which Python code is used to make predictions of the risk coefficients of respondents via a two-step regression procedure. Lastly, the degree to which the economic model provides a good fit for the lottery answers given by reasonable respondents is discerned. The most notable findings of the study are as follows. College students had extreme difficulty in understanding lottery questions of this sort, with Medical and Life Science majors struggling significantly more than both Business and Engineering majors. Additionally, gender was correlated with estimated risk coefficients, with females being more risk-loving relative to males. Lastly, in regards to the model’s goodness of fit when evaluating potential losses, the expected utility model involving choice under uncertainty was consistent with the behavior of progressives and moderates but inconsistent with the behavior of conservatives.

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2021-05

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Arizona Clean Elections: The Impact of Publicly Financed Campaigns on Representation in the Legislature

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Campaign finance regulation has drastically changed since the founding of the Republic. Originally, few laws regulated how much could be contributed to political campaigns and who could make contributions. One by one, Congress passed laws to limit the possibility of

Campaign finance regulation has drastically changed since the founding of the Republic. Originally, few laws regulated how much could be contributed to political campaigns and who could make contributions. One by one, Congress passed laws to limit the possibility of corruption, for example by banning the solicitation of federal workers and banning contributions from corporations. As the United States moved into the 20th Century, regulations became more robust with more accountability. The modern structure of campaign finance regulation was established in the 1970's with legislation like the Federal Election Campaign Act and with Supreme Court rulings like in Buckley v. Valeo. Since then, the Court has moved increasingly to strike down campaign finance laws they see as limiting to First Amendment free speech. However, Arizona is one of a handful of states that established a system of publicly financed campaigns at the state-wide and legislative level. Passed in 1998, Proposition 200 attempted to limit the influence of money politics. For my research I hypothesized that a public financing system like the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) would lead to Democrats running with public funds more than Republicans, women running clean more than men, and rural candidates running clean more than urban ones, and that Democrats, women, and rural candidates would win in higher proportions than than if they ran a traditional campaign. After compiling data from the CCEC and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, I found that Democrats do run with public funds in statistically higher proportions than Republicans, but when they do they lose in higher proportions than Democrats who run traditionally. Female candidates only ran at a statistically higher proportion from 2002 to 2008, after which the difference was not statistically significant. For all year ranges women who ran with public money lost in higher proportions than women who ran traditionally. Similarly, rural candidates only ran at a statistically higher proportion from 2002 to 2008. However, they only lost at higher proportions from 2002 to 2008 instead of the whole range like with women and Democratic candidates.

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2016-12