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Katherine Hodges
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In the section on emotional measures, I found the discussion of basic emotions to be interesting. The author briefly discusses literature which looks to identify "basic emotions, on which emotions all the other emotions are based." In the case of the emotions anger, fear, distress, disgust, anxiety, and shame, I wish the authors had teased out the literature more to show which basic emotion these all rely on. Another area of interest within this paper was the amount of exposure tobacco consumers have to CWs. One statistic mentioned that a pack-a-day smoker is "exposed to the warnings over 7000 times per year". With this thought in mind, I thought a lot into the advertisement qualities of cigarettes. The authors say that the packages are usually prominently displayed in stores, which is something I have seen a change in. Another aspect of looking into behavioral WTP could be the influence of the "impulse buy." Gum is the perfect example of this notion. It is prominently displayed at check-out areas and is very cheap compared to other items (aprox. $.90-2.50). This display encourages people to act on impulse and buy the products. As an addition to these CWs, could the movement of tobacco products away from plain view and making them more difficult to access reduce WTP even more?
Toggle Commented Nov 10, 2015 on ECON 398 for next Tuesday at Jolly Green General
In one section of the article, the author states that different emotions have their own idiosyncratic impact on decision making. While I agree with this concept and the general concept that emotions may behave lawfully, I don't think this is always the case. For example, the authors illustrate that anger motivates us to move against the source of our anger. However, I don't think that all types of anger evokes this goal. Another assertion that stuck out to me is: "Social value orientation can be understood in terms of individual variation in the chronic accessibility of situation-relevant goals for action." I would tend to agree with this point that there is a lot of individual variation, which leads me to be concerned with over-generalizing emotions. It seems very difficult to separate people into "pro-selves" and "pro-social" beings, as if there is a single spectrum. Emotions are very complex and I'm not sure if I buy that this single distinction is leading to any definitive or even accurate conclusions. Is a person innately pro-self or pro-social? Or are these artificial categories and, in fact, emotions or something other factors are determining this tendency? I understand that their point is that emotion can affect these underlying tendencies, but I am not convinced that an individual is necessarily either inherently.
Toggle Commented Nov 3, 2015 on Econ 398 at Jolly Green General
In the section on mentalizing other emotions and empathy, I was very interested in the theory that suggests there are functional differences in judging states similar and dissimilar to ours. Studies are showing that when we see a person with a perceived similar mental state, our mPFC is active. But when we observe a dissimilar mental state, a dorsal area of the mPFC is more active. Understanding that we process mental states in two different ways neurologically purely bases on the state's comparison to our own mental state is provocative. The authors go on to mention that area activated in dissimilar mental states could involve outside knowledge and stereotypes from the observed world. This egocentric bias is common in psychology, but is more compelling when different areas of the brain can be associated with the theory. The concept that we use outside knowledge and stereotypes to characterize dissimilar mental states from our own seems to fall in line with common sense reasoning. If I do not have a basis to understand someone else's mental state, I have to sort the information I am receiving into some category to simplify the information. These categories are often stereotypes of people. Although stereotyping gets a bad reputation, it is necessary for us to categorize information in order to make sense of social contexts.
Toggle Commented Oct 27, 2015 on econ 398 next two weeks at Jolly Green General
In the carry-over effect where the affective response is incidental to the choice, but still influences the assessment of subjective value and the decision, the Cold Pressor Test is very informative. For me, I have a whole systemic reaction to cold, so I think I would be under an unusually high amount of stress compared to average participants. Nonetheless, the fact that studies are showing that an increased level of stress can exaggerate decision-making is important. At W&L, although it's not cold, the self-scheduling of exams in the C-school lowers stress on students. I wonder if that would then have an effect on student decision-making and performance (in addition to many other factors). In these chapters, I am very interested in the advancements of scientific testing to monitor affect, mood, and emotion. The Balloon Analogue Risk Task is another neat method of looking at stress and decision making. The results of this study found that men take more risks and women take fewer risks under stress. Then performing those tests under an fMRI, neuroscientists found that the gender differences could lie in the activity of the insula and putamen. The process from the BART to the fMRI takes an observation and starts to pinpoint the areas and reasons why the observation occurs.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2015 on ECON 398 at Jolly Green General
The descriptions of the Game Theory Experiments in the fMRI are pretty darn cool (excuse the colloquialism). From taking Game Theory in the Spring Term with Guse, I have a general understanding of game theory from the quantitative side and of the Bayes and Nash equilibria discussed throughout chapter 2. The connection of trust in repeated games and forward induction to the frontal cortex in decision making seems natural, however, the ToM concept only came about in the 1995s. This reinforces to me the newness of the neuroeconomics field of study. Reading about the connection of punishments to the dorsal striatum, which is in the basal ganglia that controls the reward system, connected my learning of game theory to topics covered in my psychology courses. The punishment activity in the brain where the reward system is activated gives neurological support to schadenfreude.
Toggle Commented Oct 6, 2015 on ECON 398 at Jolly Green General
The introduction and the beginning of chapter 1 repeatedly states that the field of neuroeconomics is an alternative to neoclassical/revealed preferences. However, I wonder if they are actually incompatible? When I was reading the chapter, the idea that people are "irrational" because they are not consistent with their choice really stuck out to me. With the advancements in neuroscience and behavior science technology, I wonder if there is a rational explanation and function behind why choices cannot be explained by simply using a utility model. As of now, the neoclassical economists disregard the unpredictable as irrational, but if brain function can create predictable choice, would the outcomes be irrational? The GARP discussion made me think of economics in a different way. The author described that GARP is strong because, if someone violates that axiom, there cannot be a model that lies on a single utility function to describe the behavior. This gave an easily measurable theory for rational behavior. If the axiom doesn't hold, then utility functions do not work. On the other side of the discussion, GARP is weak because it doesn't tell you much when the axiom does hold. The only information you know is that a utility function will work.
Toggle Commented Sep 22, 2015 on ECON 398 at Jolly Green General
Prior to watching Professor Greer's talk, I was relatively unfamiliar with the nuances of climate and climate change. Her discussion of the feedbacks loops and the ocean circulation in particular were very educational. So here's my thoughts for discussion tomorrow in class: if we have all of this information on climate change, historical changes, and a good understanding of most of the anthropogenic causes of this rapid climate change, what are practical steps to changing policy? We know that cutting CO2 is beneficial, but if we can't implement lasting and effective policy, the warming of the earth at this rate will continue. It doesn't seem like it is an argument of convincing the general population that rapid climate change is occurring anymore. Nowadays, many agree even if they are reluctant. How can economists, politicians, geologists, climatologists, etc. work to affect beneficial change.
Toggle Commented Mar 26, 2015 on Climate Talk at Jolly Green General
For Thursday, I would like to talk about the relationship between forestry and biodiversity. This could be in terms of agroforestry, which is the dual use of land which has many costs and benefits. In a different vein, how does certification in markets affect the forest industry? Is this is an extra cost incurred because the market is trying to limit harvesting to equate marginal private and marginal public costs?
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2015 on For Thursday at Jolly Green General
While I think this research is of interest to policy makers, I think the scope of the research is incredibly limited. Surveying scuba divers is a very limited population. First, scuba diving is one of the more expensive recreational hobbies. It is costly in terms of transportation, certification, equipment, and more. In addition, the hobby revolves around experience the underwater world. I think that scuba divers have a different method of valuing the underwater environment. For example, experiencing coral and marine biodiversity needs to be enough to offset the other costs associated with diving. While the research took into account some of the costs, the price of a 2-tank dive, it doesn't take into account the (most likely) demographic difference in valuation of the dives. I think an area for further research could include a different population of respondents. While scuba is a source of tourism, there are others. As mentioned in the paper, snorkeling, glass-bottomed boat viewing, etc. also exist for recreation. I would like to see a comparison in MWTP for these resources from other recreational activity populations.
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2015 on Reading for Thursday at Jolly Green General
Since the general thesis and issues covered by Hardin have been discussed at length above, I am going to focus on two smaller points he makes that struck me. 1. "The morality of an act is a function of the state of the system at the time it is performed.” Hardin states this in the context of temperance. We may act the same way we did hundreds of years ago, but our actions can be immoral now. I found this point to be concerning, but also nuanced. First, I question if polluting the environment immoral? If so, would the same acts of pollutions have been immoral in the past? I don’t believe that pollution is a moral issue right now, however, some may disagree. But, I do believe that morals can and should be viewed not only in the culture of the time, but also in the overall system of the time period. 2. "The belief that everyone born has an equal right to the commons is to lock the world into a tragic course of action." While Hardin makes a good argument supporting the tragedy of the commons, I don’t know if he provides suitable alternatives. How can we arbitrarily state that one person is more entitled to the commons? Is it by wealth, family, status, or education? No matter the kind of commons, whether pollution or population, there is an existing establishment that provides for the rights to the commons. This was discussed in the context of mutually agreed upon mutual coercion. I find it difficult to believe that in all societies the mutually agreed upon mutual coercion results in ideal outcomes for all parties.
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2015 on Readings for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Jan 20, 2015