The Center for Experimental Research in Management and Economics (CERME) studies individual and group behavior in instances that are relevant for both economics and management. The activities of the Center revolve around researchers both from Ca' Foscari University and from other Italian and foreign Universities, using an experimental approach (laboratory and online experiments and surveys) to improve our understanding of economic decisions dynamics.
Developed as a joint effort of the Departments of Economics and Management, the research activities of the Center address several important research areas in Behavioral and Experimental economics, such as strategic choices, probability and ambiguity, information processing, behavioral finance and public choices.
The Laboratory is active in researching new methodological tools for experimental economics, from online experimentation to economics genetics and is directly involved in developing software and new experimental platforms.
The Center is part of a large collaborative network, including the Department of Management, Departments of Economics and Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage of Ca’ Foscari University and IUAV University, in particular for research addressing individual decision making and cognitive processes.
The Center collaborates with several international universities and centers and has concluded partnership agreements with Southern Denmark University, Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi), and Sabanci University (Istanbul).
The research activities benefit from the financial support of the Seventh EU Framework Programme, the Danish Council for Independent Research and GAM (Italia) SGR SpA [IT], which provides financial support for research in the behavioral finance area.
The activities of the Center focus on the research areas listed below, and on research and development of new software tools for online experiments.
An important branch of experimental economics focuses on the investigation of non-standard theories of economic behavior under ambiguity. Ambiguity is defined as a situation in which probabilities do not exist or are not known to the decision-maker. Studying economic behavior under ambiguity has several potential applications, ranging from decision making in financial markets, consumption and saving decisions and also decision making in the domain of health. Building on the large wave of theoretical work in modeling behavior under ambiguity, experimentalists are now moving forward to investigating the empirical validity of these theories from a descriptive and predictive point of view.
As far as the decision making in financial market is concerned, a project conducted at CERME, now published in Theory and Decision, addressed the joint elicitation of attitudes towards risk and attitudes under ambiguity in order to analyze how subjects’ decisions under ambiguity react to different distributions of second-order probabilities. Another project aims at improving public understanding of medical test results, identifying communication strategies that may overcome health-service users’ difficulty in interpreting probabilistic test results. Future research at CERME will focus on the learning processes in decision making under ambiguity.
Researchers involved: Armen Antinyan, Anna Balatel, Juliana Bernhofer, Vittorio Girotto, Noemi Pace, Stefania Pighin
Neoclassical finance assumes individuals are utility maximizers with rational expectations and is based on the efficient-markets and no-arbitrage hypotheses. Well documented puzzles (e.g. the equity premium puzzle), bubbles and other market imperfections have challenged this theory and led to a stream of research known as behavioral finance. According to it, agents are not rational (in the economic sense) when making investments decisions but follow irrational and simplified mechanisms of choice (heuristics). The tendency to behave is such a way is amplified by a generalized financial illiteracy, as it does not allow individuals to consciously pursue their financial welfare. The financial literacy issue is relevant not only at private level - investors are increasingly in charge of their own financial security but have to deal with financial instruments whose increasing complexity often eventually prevents them from making conscious investment decisions – but also at public level: all major economies have been very active in promoting financial education programs among individuals in order to increase the generalized level of financial literacy.
At CERME researchers are working on several research questions, using various research techniques. A survey-based research project investigates whether financial literacy an financial education influence risk taking behaviour of non-sophisticated investors and the diversification strategies they pursue. Another research project adopts the framework of the investment game and investigates whether the level of (own) financial literacy affects trust when deciding to invest with a financial intermediary. In particular, the project aims at understanding if trust is due to anticipated trustworthiness or to a social norm.
Researchers involved: Anna Balatel, Anna Moretti, Caterina Cruciani, Elisa Cavezzali, Gloria Gardenal, Inga Jonaityte, Ugo Rigoni, Yuri Pettinicchi
Consumer behavior research focuses on the processes individuals, groups, or organizations use to select, acquire, secure, use and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and desires and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society. The study of consumer behavior is inherently and increasingly interdisciplinary combining elements from psychology, sociology, social anthropology, marketing and economics. Even though it employs nearly all social science research methods, laboratory-based experimental research is the most common method in the published academic studies. The results and insights from experimental studies can be applied to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of various communication efforts and programs designed to improve individual and social welfare.
Unlike most of laboratories studying the consumer researcher in the tradition of psychological experiments, the members of CERME aim at identifying alternative methodological approaches to common issues in consumer research primarily by incorporating tools and procedures used in experimental economics (e.g. abstraction, stationary replication, consequential incentives, and the absence of deception). Research at CERME is primarily focused to significantly enhance our understanding of how consumers make decisions, how they interact with each other and with organizations, and how changes in market rules and structure might influence their behavior.
Researchers involved: Armenak Antinyan, Gabriele Paolacci, Inga Jonaityte, Pietro Lanzini
The study of organizational decision making is concerned with how different organizational structures and mechanisms affect individual behavior and aggregate performance. The experremental study of organizational decision making has been until a recent pas relatively leas developed area of behavioral economics and exprimental research. Yet, it is at the organizationa level that the exprimental tools offer some of their most interesting opportunities for application. In a way, an experiment is by itself a small, temporary organization defining institutional rules, information channels, incentives and measuring how they affect individual behavior and aggrgate performance. Thus, most classical issues of organization design are well suited to lab research. Furthermore, important aspects of organizational dynamics and adaptation are easier to capture at the scale of experimental laboratory phenomena.
The CERME is currently engaged in different projects on organizational decision making. COPE is a major project run in collaboration with the Strategic Organization Design (SOD) unit of Southern Denmark University (funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research). The project aims at exploring the problem of organizaiona plasiticty - how organizations characterized by multple levels of decision making can adapt to repeated changes in the structure of the environment. Current expeiments in the COPE project concern hierarchies vs.polyarchies, learning form environmental shocks, and adaptive incentive design in multitasking games. Another project in collaboration with researchers at lNSEAD Singapore and University California at Riverside explores the spontaneous emergence of division labor. The CERME is one of the founding members of EOS, the network tor Experiemental Organization Science.
Researchers involved: Inga Jonaityte, Massimo Warglien
Public economists routinely use laboratory and field experiments to test theories of individual and collective behaviour in the domain of public economics and public policy. For instance, experiments in public economics are conducted to investigate assumptions about people’s behaviours in social dilemmas, like in the provision of public goods, to study the effects of tax policies, to verify the effectiveness of market regulations and other administrative rules, to explore the validity of voting mechanisms, to test models of legal bargaining.
An important feature of laboratory experiments is that they allow a very tight control of the environment in which people make decisions. This improves the possibility of identifying the true causes of human behaviour with respect to what can be done in naturally occurring environments with more traditional empirical methods; but a price to be paid may be some loss in realism. When it comes to public policy, an important question therefore concerns the extent to which the results obtained in the laboratory remain valid in the real world. Field experiment permit to increase the external validity of lab results. They are conducted in the field environment which is the object of interest (for example a regulated market) and with the same type of people usually acting in that environment.
Researchers at CERME are engaged in various experimental projects on different topics of public economics and public policy, including that on public goods, tax compliance policies, social preferences, voting behaviours. We are interested and conduct experiments both in the lab and in the field.
Researchers involved: Armenak Antinyan, Michele Bernasconi, Juliana Bernhofer, Caterina Cruciani, Luca Corazzini
There has been a growing interest in how culture and language interact with fundamental aspects of human reasoning and decision making. This interest has gone hand in hand with a concern for an excessive focus of experimental work on very specific populations of human subjects. CERME has been developing different projects on language, reasoning, decision making and culture. On one hand, the lab is investigating linguistic interaction as a kind of interactive decision making, e.g. through experimental language games. On the other hand, the Lab is developing projects on how language and cultural factors may affect processes of probabilistic and causal reasoning, as well as choice. Furthermore, we are trying to develop an international network of labs that can support experimental replication in different cultural and social contexts.
Researchers involved: Juliana Bernhofer, Claudio Biscaro, Vittorio Girotto, Stefano LiPira, Stefania Pighin, Marta Stragà, Massimo Warglien
Economic games are stylized representations of people interactions in socio-economic contexts that allow scholars to study their underlying motivations in a controlled environment. Understanding the decisions of individuals in economic games may help to uncover such important features of their behaviour as social norms formation, off-equilibrium strategies, other-regarding preferences, conditional cooperation and punishment, otherwise neglected by mainstream economics.
Economic games allow to investigate individual and social preferences in different contexts, in order to disentangle different competing explanations, testing the validity of existing behavioral models and collecting evidence for alternative ones. At CERME researchers address novel research questions, using variants of classic economic games and running experiments both in the laboratory and online (e.g. via crowdsourcing platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk).
Researchers involved: Armenak Antinyan, Caterina Cruciani, Massimo Warglien
If you would be interested in participating in the experiments organized by the Center for Experimental Research in Management and Economics, register online, using the ORSEE (Online Recruitment System for Economics Experiments) platform.
Following your registration, you will be invited to participate to the upcoming experiments and will be able to see firsthand experimental research and enjoy a new experience.
Experiments are usually remunerated.
Anyone can take part in them: Ca’ Foscari students and students enroled in other institutions, workers, retired people.
If you are a researcher interested in bringing your own research to the CERME or for any other information about collaborations, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.