Glenn Dutcher, Tim Salmon, Krista Saral
This dissertation consists of three essays which focus on the intersection of political economy and behavioral economics. I am interested in understanding how people behave in politically adjacent areas so that we can find the policy interventions that can best address the issues that arise from these areas. To do so, I utilize incentivized survey instruments and laboratory experiments to study how people behave in these settings. In Chapter 1, I examine the question of how people respond to standard political surveys and whether these surveys reflect people’s genuine beliefs regarding factual political questions. Responses to standard political surveys suggest that Republicans and Democrats do not agree on the correct answer to factual political questions, which taken at face value might suggest that implementing policies that allocate time and money to information campaigns would be a good idea. However, if responses to standard political surveys do not reflect people’s genuine beliefs, then such a policy would end up wasting time and money. In Chapter 2, I examine whether conspiracy theory endorsement is associated with behavioral differences relevant to economic contexts such as the workplace or broader economic growth. Contemporary discussions about conspiracy theory endorsement in popular media suggest that it is problematic and that policy interventions that would curtail endorsement would be worthwhile, so we want to understand in which behavioral areas conspiracy theory endorsement could lead to problems. In Chapter 3, I look at how in localized, small group settings, social norms in favor of a minority preference can form. The standard conception of social norms is that they represent majority preferences, so this third chapter provides an initial investigation into how social norms that represent minority preferences can form. Understanding the circumstances under which social norms representing relatively unpopular actions and behaviors can form is relevant for knowing when policy interventions that try to push individuals to take a different action are more (or less) likely to succeed.
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Emblem, Seth, "Essays On Political Economy And Behavior" (2023). Economics Theses and Dissertations. 19.