Research & Working Papers
Poll respondents often attempt to present a positive image by overstating virtuous behaviors. We examine whether people account for this “socially desirable responding” (SDR) when drawing inferences from poll data. In an experiment, we incentivize “predictors” to guess others' choice behaviors across eight actions with varying social desirability. To aid guessing, predictors observe random subsamples of (i) incentivized choices or (ii) hypothetical claims from polls. Predictors show reasonable skepticism towards hypothetical claims, which exhibit predictable SDR. However, their skepticism is not tailored to the direction or magnitude of SDR. This under-correction occurs even though subjects' explicit responses can predict SDR.
Brownback, Andy and Burke, Nathaniel and Gagnon-Bartsch, Tristan, Inference from Biased Polls (August 24, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3695115
Group Identity and Opportunity Cost (Burke & Li) - in progress
People place real value on the identities that they hold and membership in groups of people that hold the same or similar identities. While not easily quantifiable, individuals consciously and subconsciously take actions to signal membership and loyalty to specific identity groups over others. At times, the required signals may come at a personal cost that prevents opportunities for improved individual outcomes such as deciding between staying in a small community that you grew up in and moving away to attend a high-ranked university or for job opportunities. We examine group identity loyalty in an experimental setting using parallel public goods games -with two teams of homogeneous gender identities. We give participants opportunities to switch teams, leaving their identity group, in order to increase their earnings.