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"Auctions in Near Continuous Time," with Cary A. Deck.

The lack of a behavioral isomorphism between theoretically equivalent auction institutions is a robust finding in experimental economics. Using a near-continuous time environment and graphically manipulatable bid functions, we are able to provide subjects with extensive feedback in multiple auction formats. We find that 1) First Price and Dutch Clock auctions are behaviorally isomorphic and 2) Second Price and English Clock auctions are behaviorally isomorphic. We further replicate the established result 1) that prices in Dutch Clock auctions exceed those of English Clock auctions and 2) that prices in First Price auctions exceed those of Second Price auctions. The latter pattern is often attributed to risk aversion which changes the equilibrium bidding strategy for First Price and Dutch Clock auctions. Because we observe each participants bid function directly, we find evidence of a different explanation, namely that that bidders are best responding to the distribution of observed prices.

Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus [Sapajus] apella) Play Nash Equilibria, but their Decisions are not Influenced by Oxytocin,” with Mackenzie F. Smith, Kelly Leverett, and Sarah F. Brosnan.

Here we replicate our previous work looking at six pairs of capuchin monkeys’ (Cebus [Sapajus] apella) responses to scenarios requiring both coordination (Assurance Game) and anti-coordination (Hawk-Dove Game) to provide a foundation for assessing their responses to a scenario of beneficial cooperation with a temptation to defect (Prisoner’s Dilemma) and to an environment requiring changing strategies within short temporal proximity (Alternating Economic Game). We additionally explored the effects of exogenous oxytocin on decision-making. Oxytocin did not affect decisions in any game. Results from the first two games largely replicated our previous findings. Responses to the Prisoner’s Dilemma were more varied than was seen in previous games, with pairs respectively cooperating, defecting, and failing to establish stable strategies. Such variability indicates that this game may be a good assay for individual differences in social decision-making. Finally, capuchins were able to flexibly change strategies as games alternated, continuing to play previously established strategies despite needing to adjust among different decision situations. These results build on earlier findings showing that capuchins can alter decision-making strategies as the context demands, which is likely essential for decision-making in naturally occurring contexts.

"The Meaning of Property in Things," under contract with Oxford University Press.

What is property, and why does our species happen to have it? In this article I explore how Homo sapiens acquires and cognizes the custom of property and why this might be relevant to understanding how property works in the 21st century. I first support the claim that property is a universal and uniquely human custom and then I argue that humans locate the meaning of property within a thing. Using philosophy of property law and actual property disputes, I also explain (a) how my theory generates a testable hypothesis, (b) how the bundle of sticks metaphor inverts how we cognize property, and (c) how social scientists, particularly economists, can no longer think about property as an external constraint imposed upon an individual.

"No Mere Tautology: The Division of Labor is Limited by the Division of Labor," with Andrew Smyth.

We explore the intersection of growth theory and the theory of the firm with an experiment. Economic growth is possible in our experiment when agents specialize to exploit increasing returns. We find that low opportunity costs are sufficient for Marshallian internal economies, but that Marshallian external economies are slow to emerge in four probing treatment conditions. Transaction costs do not hamper external economies as we anticipated prior to collecting data. When external economies falter, it is because new ideas about the cost and value of more extensive specialization fail to emerge. Ideas make further divisions of the division of labor and thus economic growth possible. Conversely, a lack of ideas make further divisions of labor and economic growth impossible.

"A Theory of Sociality, Morality, and Monsters: Adam Smith and Mary Shelley," with Jan Osborn, Mitchell Briggs, Alison Lee, and Alec Moss.

The moral philosopher and political economist Adam Smith (1723-1790) and the author Mary Shelley (1798-1851) are studied in different spheres of the academy, for rather different purposes, with no supposed reason for dialogue. We claim in a close concurrent reading, however, that Smith and Shelley share a common project to connect humanity with mutuality, morality with sociality. Our narrative entwines Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments with Shelley’s Frankenstein to reveal the critical nature of human sociality for our morality.

 

This site was last updated 08/09/18.