IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/csa/wpaper/2019-07.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Biased Policy Professionals

Author

Listed:
  • Sheheryar Banuri
  • Stefan Dercon
  • Varun Gauri

Abstract

Although the decisions of policy professionals are often more consequential than those of individuals in their private capacity, there is a dearth of studies on the biases of policy professionals: those who prepare and implement policy on behalf of elected politicians. Experiments conducted on a novel subject pool of development policy professionals (public servants of the World Bank and the Department for International Development in the UK) show that policy professionals are indeed subject to decision making traps, including the effects of framing outcomes as losses or gains, and most strikingly, confirmation bias driven by ideological predisposition, despite having an explicit mission to promote evidence-informed and impartial decision making. These findings should worry policy professionals and their principals in governments and large organizations, as well as citizens themselves. A further experiment, in which policy professionals engage in discussion, shows that deliberation may be able to mitigate the effects of some of these biases.

Suggested Citation

  • Sheheryar Banuri & Stefan Dercon & Varun Gauri, 2019. "Biased Policy Professionals," CSAE Working Paper Series 2019-07, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2019-07
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/papers/wps-2019-07
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2002. "Sex Differences and Statistical Stereotyping in Attitudes Toward Financial Risk," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-03, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    2. Malmendier, Ulrike & Tate, Geoffrey, 2008. "Who makes acquisitions? CEO overconfidence and the market's reaction," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 20-43, July.
    3. Sujoy Chakravarty & Glenn W. Harrison & Ernan E. Haruvy & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2011. "Are You Risk Averse over Other People's Money?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 901-913, April.
    4. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    5. Shane Frederick, 2005. "Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 25-42, Fall.
    6. Pollmann, Monique M.H. & Potters, Jan & Trautmann, Stefan T., 2014. "Risk taking by agents: The role of ex-ante and ex-post accountability," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(3), pages 387-390.
    7. Kahan, Dan M. & Peters, Ellen & Dawson, Erica Cantrell & Slovic, Paul, 2017. "Motivated numeracy and enlightened self-government," Behavioural Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 54-86, May.
    8. Banuri, Sheheryar & Keefer, Philip, 2016. "Pro-social motivation, effort and the call to public service," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 139-164.
    9. Liv Langfeldt, 2004. "Expert panels evaluating research: decision-making and sources of bias," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 51-62, April.
    10. Song, Fei, 2008. "Trust and reciprocity behavior and behavioral forecasts: Individuals versus group-representatives," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 675-696, March.
    11. Christiane Bradler, 2009. "Social Preferences under Risk - An Experimental Analysis," Jena Economic Research Papers 2009-022, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    12. Gary Charness & Matthias Sutter, 2012. "Groups Make Better Self-Interested Decisions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 157-176, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Dustan & Stanislao Maldonado & Juan Manuel Hernandez-Agramonte, 2018. "Motivating bureaucrats with non-monetary incentives when state capacity is weak: Evidence from large-scale field experiments in Peru," Working Papers 136, Peruvian Economic Association.
    2. Andrew Dustan & Juan Manuel Hernandez-Agramonte & Stanislao Maldonado, 2018. "Motivating bureaucrats with non-monetary incentives when state capacity is weak: Evidence from large-scale," Natural Field Experiments 00664, The Field Experiments Website.
    3. Donato Masciandaro & Davide Romelli, 2019. "Behavioral Monetary Policymaking: Economics, Political Economy and Psychology," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Behavioral Finance The Coming of Age, chapter 9, pages 285-329, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Biases; decision making; policy professionals; framing; confirmation bias; behavioural economics;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2019-07. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Julia Coffey). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/csaoxuk.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.