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Regular version of the site

Research Seminar 2020/2021

Laboratory runs a regular research seminar in experimental studies of human behaviour. Regular participants are researchers and research students in psychology, economics, neuroscience, mathematical and statistical modelling of individual and collective behaviour in economic context broadly defined.

Time:  12 pm - 1 pm (UTC+3) unless otherwise noted

Location: Online in Zoom, link sent out to interested participants  (please, contact Tatiana Libenson)

Working language: English

December  January  February  March  April  May  June

Please click on the current month






Alexis Belianin (HSE)

Prosocial preferences and care for others: a case study of COVID-19

Abstract: The global pandemia of COVID-19 has triggered an unprecedented wave of concerns for public health, but is it really reflected in individual behavior? We set up a simple online experiment aimed to measure the relative importance (weights) put on social welfare vs individual income in different cities of Russia. Participants in this experiment make a simple decision between safer option but less profitable option ('stay home'), or riskier, but potentially more profitable ('go out'). Risks in the experiment come from the danger of get COVID, which deprecates one's earnings, but also invokes negative spillovers on the rest of the participants, which effect is larger the more people decide to go out. Comparison of decisions across cities and estimated parameters of the structural model allow to evaluate the degree of prosocial responsibility under motivated decisions, which contributes to both research and policy agenda. 


Sofia Golofast                      (HSE St.Petersburg)

Social norms towards corruption: experimental approach

Abstract: Although there is ongoing research devoted to the study of corruption through a social norms lens, the theory of social norms and the approach to their measurement still seem to be ambiguous. This study aims to evaluate the consistency among various aspects of social norms using a specific case of harassment bribery. The preliminary data obtained from the game held online to observe the actual behaviour of participants do not provide the evidence of the existence of a social norm towards harassment bribery. This makes it important to continue the research by exploring other aspects.


Daria Ione (HSE St.Petersburg)

Formation of prosocial skills: experiments with school-age children

Abstract: This study investigates whether there is the relationship between potential appearance of the second dictator (role C) and the first dictator’s behavior (role A). Moreover, we also study how A’s decision affects C’s decision. At the same time, we check the impact of family, personality and wealth on dictators’ decisions. Our subjects are 15-17 years old school students who study at the 10th grade in Saint Petersburg lyceum. We conducted Dictator Game and Social Responsibility Game. We got unexpected results the potential presence of player B does not affect the prosociality of player A at all, however, actual presence of "dishonest" behavior results in propensity to be prosocial. 


Tatiana Tkachevskaya       (HSE St.Petersburg)       Polina Vertyanova             (HSE St.Petersburg)

Development of Pro-social Behavior in Childhood

Abstract: We study the question of how the individual choice of a child playing a dictator game, which measures their pro-sociality, can be affected by their peers’ behavior. This new decade showed a rise of newly found interest in the topic of pro-social behavior, and the processes of its development in pre-school children in particular. We conduct an experiment with 4- to 7-year-old children to see how the information about other players’ decisions will influence individual pro-social preferences. The study contributes to the expanding body of literature examining particular qualities of pro-sociallity in children.






Oxana Bondarenko

Preliminary defense of dissertation «Social Status and Information Transmission in Experimental Games»

Abstract:  This work studies how social status and other personal characteristics affect social learning. In a dyadic experimental game, individuals make repeated attempts to guess the underlying state of the world. Socioeconomic status, subjective social status, leadership traits, social capital and other characteristics are measured by a set of questions while risk aversion is elicited by an incentivized task. Asymmetric social status is also induced by a dictator game. The results show that people with high subjective social status rely less on observed choices of other subjects and put more weight on private information. People with lower risk aversion and with more pronounced leadership traits are also less likely to learn from the actions of others.
28/01 Heike Hennig-Schmidt (HSE)  (joint work with Alexis Belianin, Gregory Chernov, Olga Kuznetsova, Marina Ryzhkova, Gari Walkowitz) Regional Differences in Social Preferences – Evidence from an Interactive Online Experiment in Russia
Abstract: Interregional differences in social preferences within a country may lead to local distribution standards differentiated across regions. If being pronounced these standards are likely to lead to perceptions of positive/negative discriminatory treatment in interregional interactions even when partners from all regions are treated alike according to the local standards. In a large and centralized country like Russia differences in local standards of social preferences are likely to exist, particularly vis-à-vis Moscow. To study this topic, we conducted an Ultimatum Game laboratory experiment in within- and across-cities interactions via Internet with participants from Moscow, Samara and Tomsk. Our results show local distribution standards to exist in Offers, Minimal Acceptance Levels (MAOs) and proposers’ beliefs: Muscovite proposers offer and responders request significantly lower amounts than Samara and Tomsk participants with the latter not being different. We found nearly no differential treatment – neither to counterparts from the own nor from another city.
04/02 Maksim Mozolyuk, (HSE-Moscow)

Pre-defense of term paper: Is Knowing More Always Better: the Effect of Information on Corruption level

Abstract: The paper investigates the influence of the information about perceived corruption level of the agent’s region of origin on the willingness to give a bribe. We use the two-stage bribery game (Cameron, Chaudhuri, Erkal and Gandgaharan 2009), where Private Citizen and Public Official make decisions: Private Citizen decides whether to give a bribe, while Public Official decides whether to accept it. When a Public Official rejects a bribe, a Private citizen loses money and  fined.  As in Lambdsdorff and Frank 2009 we use donations to the charity as a  negative externality. The willingness to give a bribe  will increase if the information provided about the Public Official’s region of origin reveals a high level of corruption there. The results will be insightful for deeper understanding of conditional corruption phenomenon and the way the additional information may boost an effect of corruption as self-fulfilling prophecy (Corbacho et al. 2016).  
11/02 Heike Hennig-Schmidt (HSE)  Alexis Belianin (HSE) (further coauthors: P. Chapkovski and G. Walkowitz)

Interregional Trust in Russia – First Results of a Behavioral and Survey Study

Abstract:The talk reports on a new behavioral and survey study aimed at better understanding  the channels through which trust and trustworthiness operate across Russian regions. We run an interactive online trust game experiment on the crowdsourcing platform Yandex.Toloka in 12 cities covering all Russia federal districts. We collected data from  2,078 participants. From each participant we observed decisions and elicited beliefs regarding each of the 12 cities. Our comprehensive data base consists of nearly 25,000 decisions on trust and trustworthiness, respectively, the same for beliefs. The survey part  of the data comprises for each participant  answers to more than 100 survey items covering a wide variety of social characteristics, decision motives, attitudes, political and religious orientation,  personality traits and many other items. The talk provides insight into the structure of this unique data set and reports first results. The presentation is also meant for students looking for a relevant topic of their Bachelor, Master or PhD  thesis. 

18/02 canceled  

Grigory Chernov (HSE-Moscow)

Models of Learning in Economic Experiments

Abstract: The presentation outlines the proposed PhD thesis, that is the unifying theme behind three papers –  a new method for building learning models and putting them to a practical use. The proposed method builds on the work of Ioannou Romero (2014) and Hanaki (2005) extends and adapts their strategy-based learning techniques to the 3×3 game. I present the issue of model comparison on the experimental data and propose an identification technique that resolves it. The extended strategy-based learning model is then identified through this technique in a laboratory experiment.


Magomed Zailbekov (HSE-Moscow)

Pre-defence of term paper: Econometric Estimates of Attitudes Towards Risk

Abstract: The presentation will contain the outline of the proposed BSc diploma paper on "Econometric estimates of attitudes towards risk". The proposed model and experiment will check whether the risk attitude is robust over time. In addition, the influence of external factors on the change of risk attitude (if found) will be looked at. The data will be collected during the experimental game conducted by the Laboratory of Behavioral Economics (HSE) on the 4-th year students of ICEF. The results are hoped to be used in determining the possible approach to level off the risk attitude at required level (increase or decrease it).
Mark Dubin (HSE-Moscow) Pre-defence of term paper:  Determinants of Strategic Decision-Making in Cross-Country Experiments

Abstract: The presentation will contain the outline of the proposed BSc diploma paper on “Determinants of strategic decision-making in cross-country evidence”. The proposed model will determine the dependence between the decisions made by Russian and German responders and such parameters as age, gender, nationality, country of residence, religion, education of parents and others. The data is collected during the experimental game performed by the Laboratory of Behavioral Economics (HSE). The interpretation of model results can be applied to interpreting real-life corporate governance and managerial strategic decisions.


Konovalova Christina (HSE-Moscow)

Pre-defence of term paper: Influence of Emotions on Economic Decisions

Abstract: The presentation will contain the outline of the proposed BSc diploma paper on "Influence of Emotions on Economic Decisions”. The proposed experiment will check whether boredom has an effect on risk-taking. To be more precise, whether being bored would make people more prone to choosing riskier lotteries. 
Arkhipova Svetlana(HSE-Moscow) Pre-defence of term paper: Brand Avoidance and International Multi Brand Companies
Abstract: A comparative study of consumption preferences and reasons for brand avoidance among Russian and German consumers. It is a two stage study, where participants will be asked to rate selected products in a online-marketplace-like environment and then fill in a questionnaire typical for existing studies of brand avoidance. The platform for conducting the study is yet undecided.


Kolesnikova Natalia

Pre-defence of term paper:  Problem of Self-Medication in Russia

Abstract: The presentation will contain the outline of the proposed BSc diploma paper on "Self-medication in Russia”. A survey study on the young population of Russia is to be conducted. The received data will help to evaluate the economic factors of self-medication and to estimate whether such practice has more risks or benefits. The goal is to identify the unknown personal effects and to numerically evaluate them. 


Makarov Alexander

Alisa Godovanets

Shkoller Sophia


Molokovsky Egor



Pre-defence of term paper: Observer Effect and Charitable Decisions

Pre-defence of term paper: Mood and economic decisions in experimental lab

Pre-defence of term paper:  Time Budgets: How does a Consumer Spend Time with a Respect for Socio-Economic Situation

Pre-defence of term paper:  Application of Reference Dependence to Palliative Care Preferences of Chronically Ill Patients

08/04 Philipp Chapkovski (HSE)  Strategic Ignorance and Strategic Awareness in Polarised Society: An Experimental Study of Altruistic Behaviour Among COVID-19 Vaccination Supporters and Sceptics
Abstract: People tend to avoid information that they might find morally burdensome in such a way that it could affect their future decision-making. For instance, in the Dictator Game (DG), people typically choose not to be informed of the consequences of their self-interested behavior (Dana et al., 2007). At the same time, most people demonstrate in-group bias, giving more to their own group members than outsiders.
We investigate how strategic ignorance interacts with in-group bias with respect to differing attitudes to COVID-19 vaccination. We make use of the fact that Russian audience is highly polarized in its attitudes to COVID-19 vaccination. Participants are surveyed on their opinion of COVID-19 vaccination and matched with partners in DG. Depending on the treatment, the Dictators would be presented with one of the following scenarios: they would be presented with the Recipient’s opinion of COVID-19 vaccination while making a decision in DG; they would be prompted to opt in to observe the Recipient’s opinion prior to making a decision; they would only be allowed to opt in to observe the Recipient’s opinion after making a decision.
15/04 Break due to XXII April Conference
22/04 Break due to XXII April Conference
29/04 Alexis Belianin (HSE) Beliefs and decisions in experimental games
Abstract: The role of beliefs as determinants of individual decisions is very important in experimental games, including cross-cultural contexts. Abundant evidence shows that people tend to extend their beliefs and expectations about partners in one location to other locations, resulting in potential inefficiencies caused by mismatches in beliefs. We present a simple theoretical model of belief-dependent decisions in ultimatum game, and fit its parameters to data of 3-cities online experiment in Moscow, Samara and Tomsk.
06/05 Break due to public holidays



Leonid Polishchuk (HSE) (coautors: Mira Nurmakhanova (KIMEP University, Kazakhstan), Michael Alexeev (Indiana University, USA))

Institutions and Culture in Group Lending: Cross-Country Analysis

Abstract: Microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world commonly resort to group lending as an alternative to the conventional loans to individuals, when the latter cannot pledge tangible and easily marketable collaterals. Instead, borrower groups offer ‘social collaterals’ by assuming collective responsibility for loan repayment and using to this end peer monitoring and mutual support. Reliance on social collateral makes social capital a prerequisite for group lending. We argue and show empirically that both bonding and bridging types of social capital are indeed important factors in the MFI’s reliance on group lending, but their impacts are conditional on the quality of contract enforcement, which complements bonding social capital and substitutes for bridging one.


Alexander Tatarko (HSE)

Social capital during the Covid-19 pandemic threat: The Russian experience

Abstract: Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many studies have been conducted to explore the role of social capital in overcoming the negative consequences of the pandemic. However, how the pandemic itself has affected social capital has not been studied. In an attempt to fill this gap, we studied the relationship between perceived coronavirus threat and such indicators of social capital. The study (N=500) found that perceived coronavirus threat was not associated with social trust, but positively associated with institutional trust. Moreover, this relationship was observed only in an older sub-sample (over 60 years old), while among younger people this relationship was nonsignificant. We also found that perceived coronavirus threat was associated with a closer relationship in the family, but at the same time, with a distance in relations with neighbors and residents of the respondents’ locality. No relation was found between perceived COVID threat levels and relationships with colleagues and friends.

Valeria Maggian (Ca' Foscari University). Сoautors: Philip Chapkovski (HSE) and Vardan Baghdasaryan (American University of Armenia, CERGE-EI Foundation) 

Voter fraud happening! Experimental evidence on voter turnout and future cooperation

Abstract: In recent years, claims of vote rigging were repeatedly reported by political parties in US. Whether these mutual accusations are true is unclear, but in addition it remains unknown how electoral fraud expectations affect voting behavior, and whether candidates strategically send messages about the fraud (even if unsubstantiated) to influence voters’ expectations. In this study, we aim to theoretically and experimentally investigate the effects of candidates’ cheap talk about electoral fraud on voter turnout. In particular, candidates may have an incentive to claim that voter fraud is happening, in order to suppress the turnout of the supporters of the opposite party or to boost the turn-out of their own voter base. Besides providing evidence on voters’ reaction to unverifiable claims of electoral fraud (if any), we also study whether (false claims of) electoral fraud possibly negatively spills over cooperation among individuals, by lowering trust of voters.  



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