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The Impact of Soft Traits and Cognitive Abilities on Life Outcomes: Subjective Wellbeing, Education Achievement, and Rational Choices: a Chocolate Tasting Experiment

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Abstract

Linking to a growing literature in behavioral economics, this study combines neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics to empirically analyze the extent to which academic achievement, the relative weight of rationality vs. fairness in decision-making, and life satisfaction are affected by cognitive ability, persistent personality traits, and short-term stimuli based on psychological priming techniques. Prior to undertaking a course exam and playing the role of the respondent in an ultimatum game, a group of Masters and PhD students were stimulated either emotionally (via chocolate tasting) or rationally (via mathematical problem solving). Results show that, in addition to rational skills, short term stimuli and persistent personality traits have a significant impact on academic performance. They also influence the extent to which decisions are affected by notions of rationality and fairness and individuals’ subjective satisfaction with life. Given the economic importance of the associated outcomes, this opens up an important research agenda.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tor Vergata University, CEIS in its series CEIS Research Paper with number 241.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 17 Jul 2012
Date of revision: 17 Jul 2012
Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:241

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Postal: CEIS - Centre for Economic and International Studies - Faculty of Economics - University of Rome "Tor Vergata" - Via Columbia, 2 00133 Roma
Phone: +390672595601
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Web page: http://www.ceistorvergata.it
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Postal: CEIS - Centre for Economic and International Studies - Faculty of Economics - University of Rome "Tor Vergata" - Via Columbia, 2 00133 Roma
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Web: http://www.ceistorvergata.it

Related research

Keywords: Neuroeconomics; Psychology and Behavioral Economics; Satisfaction with life; Rational Choices; Consumer Theory;

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  1. Mathilde Almlund & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Tim D. Kautz, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," NBER Working Papers 16822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gary E Bolton & Rami Zuwick, 2010. "Anonymity versus punishments in ultimatum bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 826, David K. Levine.
  3. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S285-300, October.
  4. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  5. G. Bolton, 2010. "A comparative model of bargaining: theory and evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 263, David K. Levine.
  6. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
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