Research projects

I’m a Ph.D. Research Scholar in the Norwegian School of Economics – FAIR. My supervisors are Mathias Ekström and Bertil Tungodden.

Within the Ph.D. program, I’m working on the following projects:

Diffusion of responsibility and social damage (with Adrian Vargas-López)

Previous studies had found that individuals generate strategies to rationalize their moral decisions and reduce the intrinsic costs they face when they chose to do something against their positive self-image. Also, there is evidence that one of these strategies is to dilute their moral responsibility in others. In this study, we analyze the diffusion of responsibility about generating social damage with a laboratory experiment. We study the diffusion of responsibility in two ways: 1. by increasing the number of people responsible for generating social damage, 2. by generating a self-serving justification on the fact that they are not pivotal in the decision of generating social damage. This study builds on the findings by Falk & Szech (2017), though it modifies some aspects in their design to analyze the importance of the size of the group and an alternative way of understanding why it means not being pivotal.

Behavioral strategies in clinical interviews to reduce patients non-disclosure of relevant information (with Andrés Castañeda-Prado)

There is evidence that most people lie or hide relevant information from their physician. According to recent surveys, between 61% and 81% of patients self-report this behavior (Levi et al., 2019; Levi et al., 2018). The leading causes mentioned in those surveys are concerns about their reputation, shame, and information avoidance about the risks of their habits. Other studies have found similar causes. However, to our understanding, all previous research is based on self-reports and not on incentivized tasks and experimental designs that could find causal relations. In this study, we will conduct a field experiment in Mexico City to fill that gap in the literature. We will answer why patients lie to their doctors and tests four different behavioral strategies to reduce their dishonesty.

Dishonesty and trust-based commitments (with Kjetil Bjorvatn, Mathias Ekström, and Hallgeir Sjåstad)

This project is in a design phase.

Undesirable cooperation among selfish individuals (solo-authored JMP)

This project is in a design phase.

In addition to the projects for the PhD program, I’m also working on:

Closing the gap in STEM careers using Behavioral Sciences. Lessons from an intervention in Mexican high schools (with Monserrat Bustelo, Margarita Gómez-García, Claudia Piras, Marlene Saint Martin, and Miguel Székely)

Women’s low representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields reinforces existing inequalities in the labor market and helps perpetuate the gender wage gap. We administered a survey to over 12,000 students in Mexico and found that female students face the following behavioral bottlenecks: stereotypes bias, social norms bias, self-efficacy bias, lack of information and process complexity. To overcome these barriers, we conducted a quasi-experiment with 3,650 female students from 32 public high schools in Mexico City. Our intervention focused on female students in their last year of high school with a high performance      in scientific-mathematical subjects. We sent information in personalized letters, and randomized participants into two treatment arms. Students in the first arm received the story of a role model to tackle      gender stereotype biases. Those in the second arm received a practical guide to applying to university to reduce the lack of information and process complexity barriers.  The rest of the students received a placebo letter with basic information about STEM-related majors. We find evidence that the treatment letters influenced female students’ preference for math subjects compared to the control group. Nonetheless, we found no evidence that the treatment letters influenced their willingness to study a STEM-related major.

Covid-19 in Mexico City: behaviors, beliefs and attitudes (with Nuria Álvares Agüi, Enrique Cáceres Nieto, Manuel García Martínez, Josafat Hernández Cervantes, Lidia López Bejarano, and Adrian Vargas-López)

We administered an online survey to generate a database that identifies Mexico City residents’ behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes concerning the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, four simple behavioral experiments were designed within the survey to answer questions about the effect of corruption on confidence actions during the epidemic, the credibility of the recommended measures, and the best way to communicate the need for protective behavior. We received three thousand answers from a convenient sample of people over 18 years old who live in Mexico City.

Priming against food waste. What really works? (with Adrian Vargas-López)

This project is in a design phase.

Applying Behavioral Science to increase compliance and reports of gifts received by public servants in Mexico (with Margarita Gómez-García)

Abstract of the Working Paper: With empirical findings, behavioral sciences bring new ways to understand and reduce undesirable behaviors such as dishonesty and corruption. This study applies insights from behavioral sciences to increase the report of gifts received by public servants in Mexico. Through a field experiment, we answer the question: What kind of message, informed by behavioral sciences, is more effective to change public servants’ behavior to comply with the regulation of gifts in Mexico? We sent five behaviorally informed messages to 157,586 public servants during the Christmas holiday season 2016-2017. The results show that a simple email informing public servants of their obligation to report and return the received gifts had the greatest effect on compliance with the regulation. This intervention not only increased the number of gifts reported but also the sum of their price and the number of the public servants who complied with the law. Likewise, we found that making salient the impact of gifts on public servants’ impartiality have a significant effect on the number of reports of gifts.

If you wish to know more about my current projects please contact me here.