ESSEC Workshops in Behavioral and Experimental Research 

The ESSEC Workshop in Behavioral Studies organizes research seminars on experimental and behavioral in various fields of business administration: management, marketing, OR, economics, finance, psychology. Both Essec scholars and external presenters are welcome, provided that they present relevant studies for business and other organizations.

March 21 2023

Gilles Laurent, Marc Vanhuele

How Do Consumers Read and Encode a Price 


Do consumers really read a price from left to right, as assumed in past research? Or does price reading operate like word reading, with a single fixation toward the middle? Three eye-tracking lab studies reject both theories, revealing instead a distinct reading pattern: multiple fixations, with the first located on average between the first third and middle of the price; the first eye movement is usually to the left; and subsequent eye movements are as often to the left as to the right. Overall, consumers pay as much attention to cents as euros, with the cents part influencing how prices are encoded in memory, as evidenced by an in-store price-recall survey. The reading process identifies whether to encode a price verbally as is or replace it with a shorter substitute that is easier to memorize and turns out to be well correlated with the actual price (r = 0.952). When consumers compare two prices, eye movements and the subsequent subjective estimation of the price difference depend on whether or not the prices have identical integer parts. The combined findings of four studies suggest that consumers have developed a reliable, efficient ability to read and encode prices, despite limitations of their visual span and working memory. 

February 14, 2023

Arslen Javed, Ayse Önçûler

Self-Other Discrepancy in Risky Decisions 


Making decisions on behalf of others is common in practice but past findings on self-other discrepancies in decision-making are not conclusive. There is some evidence for lower risk-aversion when making decisions for others whereas other findings are in the opposite direction. This paper examines self-other discrepancies among decision-making for oneself, familiar others, and strangers. Three online studies show that, when their identity is revealed, individuals make similar risk-averse choices for themselves and familiar others as compared to strangers. However, under anonymity, their decisions are more risk-seeking for familiar others, compared to themselves. We discuss the role of accountability and anticipated shame as the underlying mechanisms for this discrepancy.

January 19, 2023

Karine Lamiraud, Julien Patris, Radu Vranceanu

Experimental evidence on the value of time and structure in market negotiations 


This paper reports the results from a multi-attribute market negotiation experiment to study how the structure of the negotiation process influences its efficiency. We found that, conditional on the success of the negotiation, the total value created increased with the time spent negotiating; by working one more minute, negotiators created on average 37 additional value units (1% of the maximal value). However, most of the gains were obtained in the early moments of the negotiation. Using a between-subject design, we analyzed the consequences of (1) guiding negotiations towards early wins, and (2) inviting negotiators to share information about their priority goals. The negociation scenario uses the pharmaceutical market - where prices are regulated and determined by a formalized process – as a relevant real-world setting for a sequential negotiation process. In both treatments, the total value created exceeded the control value by approximately 9% of the maximal value. However, it was essentially the buyer who captured the additional value. Negotiator gender had an impact on the negotiation outcome, with women underperforming compared to men. 

November 21rd, 2019

François PANNEQUIN,  Professor of Economics at ENS Cachan

How Compulsory Insurance Triggers Self-Insurance Among Risk Lovers? An Experimental Evidence.  ” 


As shown by Pannequin and Corcos (2019), when insurance is compulsory, risk averters adjust (by substituting) their self-insurance behavior to compensate for the level (too high or too low) of the compulsory coverage. By contrast, even though they would refuse to invest in any voluntary hedging scheme, risk lovers freely invest in loss-reduction to supplement compulsory partial insurance coverage. While compulsory insurance and self-insurance are substitutes for risk averters, they are complements for risk lovers. We propose an experimental test of these predictions. 

April 2nd, 2019

Sophie CETRE,  PhD student in Economics at Sciences Po Paris

“Principal's Distributive Preferences and the Incentivization of Agents ” 


While recent advances in the literature has explored the role of workers’ social preferences, far less is know about the importance of managers’ preference in workplace interactions. Using a lab experiment and a Principal-Agent setting, we ask managers to choose between two piece-rate wage contracts for two workers. Choices are designed to elicit managers preferences regarding output-maximizing contracts, redistributive contracts, and merit contracts. To isolate normative preferences we vary the incentives that managers face. At the extensive margin, managers are randomly allocated into a Stakeholder group (income is proportional to output), or a Spectator group (fixed income). At the intensive margin, we vary the size of the tradeoff between contracts.

We find that managers do hold distributive preferences, which constitutes one additional explanation for wage compression within firms. Nearly all Spectators care to some extent about the distributive consequences of their decisions by trading-off a higher output to reduce inequality across workers. About 40% of Stakeholders are willing to give up on income to compress wages, but they are sensitive to stakes and are less incline to favor equality when they have a lot to loose.

November 22th, 2018

Drs. Sebastiano Massaro, Associate Professor of Organizational Neuroscience, Head of the Organizational Neuroscience Laboratory, Surrey Business School and Nick Lee, Professor of Marketing, Warwick Business School 

“Unpacking fMRI for Business Scholars ” 


They will be making a presentation designed to give researchers a basic introduction to neuroscience as it related to conducting research in business, economics, and related areas with a specific focus on functional magnetic resonance (brain) imagining (fMRI). They will discuss some types of research that can be conducted using neuroscience and the basic principles of fMRI.  

Mai 15th, 2018

Professor Radu Vranceanu,  ESSEC Business School, Economics Department

“Experimental Evidence on Deceitful Communication: Does Everyone Have a Price?” (Project in collaboration with Delphine Dubart, research engineer at ESSEC Business School  )


This paper introduces a new task to elicit individual aversion to deceiving, defined as the lowest payoff for which an individual agrees to switch from faithful to deceitful communication. The core task is a modified version of the Deception Game as presented in Gneezy (Am. Econ. Rev. 95 (1): 384–395: 2005). Deceitful communication brings about a constant loss for the receiver, and a range of benefits for the sender. A multiple-price-list mechanism is used to determine the sender’s communication strategy contingent on the various benefits from deception. Results show that 71% of the subjects in the sender role will implement pure or threshold communication strategies. Among them, 40% appear to be process driven, being either "ethical" or "spiteful". The other 60% respond to incentives in line with the lying cost theory; they will forego faithful communication if the benefit from deceiving the other is large enough. Regression analysis suggests that this reservation payoff is independent of the gender, age, risk aversion and social preferences of the subject, thus it would capture an inner taste for "doing good".

April 17th, 2018

Professor Karoline Strauss,  ESSEC Business School, Management Department

“Reactions to change from the frontline: When leaders are threatened by employees’ proactive behavior” (Project in collaboration with Asma Bagash and Dawn Eubanks from Warwick Business School.  )


Proactive behavior in organizations refers to employees’ self-initiated efforts to bring about change in order to address problems or instigate improvements. As organizational contexts become more uncertain and unpredictable, organizations increasingly require employees to be proactive. However, previous research suggests that leaders may not always be supportive of their employees’ proactive behavior, which may prevent organizations from benefitting from suggestions and solutions proposed by frontline workers. We argue that because initiating change is traditionally the prerogative of leaders, proactive behavior may be seen as a claim to leadership. This may in turn threaten a leader’s identity and result in a range of negative reactions. In a set of scenario-based experiments with 273 professionals based in the US and 117 middle managers in India we found preliminary support for our hypothesis that proactive behavior is seen as threatening. Plans for a further experiment and a field study will be discussed.  

December 14th, 2017

Professor Julija Mell,  ESSEC Business School, Management Department

“Using and abusing metaknowledge: Motivated information processing and transactive memory system centralization” (Project in collaboration with Zoé Ziani-Franclet, PhD student at ESSEC Business School)


Research on transactive memory system (TMS) has shown that the distribution of metaknowledge (i.e., the “knowledge of who knows what”) among team members can affect team performance. In particular, a centralized TMS structure (i.e., when metaknowledge is concentrated within one member), compared to a decentralized structure (i.e., when metaknowledge is evenly distributed among the team members), has been shown to have the potential to spur the exchange and integration of information, thus improving team performance. In the present paper, we examine the role motivation in this process. We argue that the relationship between TMS structure and team performance depends on the members’ motivation to work towards the best possible outcome for their group (i.e., their social motivation). Using a laboratory decision-making experiment (N = 107 teams), we show that social motivation moderates the link between TMS structure and team informationelaboration. Surprisingly, we do not find a positive link between information elaboration and team performance. We discuss potential explanations and next steps.

November 7th, 2017

Professor Radu Vranceanu,  ESSEC Business School, Economics Department

“Affective well-being and productivity in a paid real-effort experiment” (Project in collaboration with SeEun Jung, Inha University, Seoul)


The real-effort task experiment by Oswald et al. (2015) revealed a positive and significant impact of a positive mood on work productivity in a sample of UK students. Using the same task, but a different mood manipulation and subject sample, this paper provides some more contrasting findings. A positive, significant relationship going from higher well-being to higher productivity can also be observed in a sample of French subjects with a similar Western cultural background. However, the relationship is not statistically significant in a sample of Korean students, which raises the question of the right measure of happiness in Asian cultures.  

June 6th, 2017

Professor Xianchi Dai, Chinese University of Hong Kong

“Need and Intertemporal Choice: A Dual Goal Hypothesis”


How does a need state (e.g., hunger, sexual arousal) influence intertemporal choice? Five studies show it activates two goals: 1. Immediacy goal (“get it sooner”), which decreases patience in intertemporal choice. 2. Quantity goal (“get more”), which increases patience in intertemporal choice. In near intertemporal choices, the immediacy goal prevails and those high (vs. low) in need choose immediate gratification. In contrast, in distant intertemporal choices, the quantity goal prevails and those high (vs. low) in need opt for delayed rewards and better self-control. These findings have theoretical implications for understanding the influence of need on patience and practical implications 

May 11th, 2017

Professor Marwan Sinaceur, ESSEC Business School, Public and Private Policy Department and the Institute for Research and Education on Negotiation (IRENE) 

“Self-Assertive Interdependence: A Cultural Psychological Analysis of Arab Culture”  (Project in collaboration with Alvaro San Martin, William W. Maddux, and Shinobu Kitayama) 


Arabs represent a major cultural group and, yet, Arab culture is almost completely neglected in the current social and cultural psychological literature. Here, we addressed this gap by hypothesizing that Arab culture is characterized by a unique form of interdependence that is self-assertive. Study 1 compared Arabs, East Asians, and Westerners using implicit measures of interdependence, holistic cognition, and self-assertion. As predicted, Arabs were highly interdependent and holistic, similar to East Asians. However, Arabs also exhibited a strong tendency toward self-assertion, similar to Westerners. Studies 2 and 3 used priming procedures to show that the self-assertive tendency of Arabs is in service of interdependence, whereas the seemingly identical tendency of Westerners is in service of independence. This unique psychological profile of Arab people, demonstrated here for the first time, helps the social and behavioral science research on culture to go beyond the prevailing East-West paradigm.

April 20th, 2017

Ph.D. candidate Jose-Benedicto DUHAYLONGSOD, ESSEC Business School, Operations Management and Decision Sciences concentration 

"Learning From Near-Miss Events to Avoid Supply Chain Disruption."  (Project in collaboration with Ayse Onculer and Felix Papier) 


We study how operations managers learn from supply chain disruption in situations wherein disruptions are costly. We hypothesize that managers miss the opportunity to learn from near-miss events – situations where the available inventory exactly equals the demand, thus closely avoiding failure (in our case a stockout). In a controlled laboratory experiment, we observe that individuals evaluate their inventory decisions too positively after near-miss events, which leads to overly risky decisions in the subsequent periods. Also, we find that individuals who experienced near-miss events in the past have average inventory quantities that are farther away from the optimal decision, and are more likely to experience a stockout than those who haven't experienced them. Finally, our results suggest that organizational corrective measures such as the increased salience of failure and installation of a safety environment mitigate the events’ immediate, short-run effects but not their cumulative, long-run effects on inventory decisions. The salience of failure and safety environment, therefore, appear as useful de-biasing tools in the short-run, even though failure to learn from near-miss events requires additional efforts in the long-run.

January 28th 2016

Professor Béatrice Boulu-Reshef, Sorbonne University

"Organization Style, Leadership Strategy and Free-Riding" (Project in collaboration with Charles A. Holt and Melissa Thomas-Hunt)

Abstract : 

Organizations often match leaders with followers in order to foster cooperation, mitigate free riding, and thereby accomplish tasks effectively. This paper studies the effect of organization styles on leaders’ choices of leadership strategy, and the effect of this choice on free-riding behavior. In controlled experiments, leaders are asked to choose messages from a message set that induces a leadership style and to send it to followers in a repeated and finite horizon public goods game. When provided with collegial leadership style messages, leaders perform better than their top down counterparts, but only when targeted private communication is not allowed. When it is allowed, leaders who are instructed to be top down perform better by focusing on individuals, not the group, and by leading while accounting for contributor types. The paper uncovers core and understudied mechanisms of top down leadership, and challenges the consensus that collegiality is best for leading groups.

October 22nd, 2015

Professor Felix Papier, ESSEC Business School, Operations Management

"Group Identity to Manipulate Social Preferences in Supply Chains with Costly Effort"  (Project in collaboration with Ulrich Thonemann and Torsten Gully)


We analyze a supply chain in which a demand planner provides demand forecasts to a production planner. The production planner uses the forecasts to decide on the production quantities and needs information about the accuracy of the forecasts to determine the appropriate safety stock levels. The accuracy of the forecast depends on the effort that the demand planner invests in forecasting. The production planner cannot observe the effort and has to form a belief about the demand planner’s effort level. If the actual effort of the demand planner and the belief of the production planner are not aligned, the overall performance of the supply chain suffers. We develop a game theoretic model to show how social preferences affect the alignment between the demand planner and the production planner. Using laboratory experiments we find support for the theoretical predictions: Some demand planners invest effort, and production planners anticipate this effort. We further show that group identity can be used to increase social preferences, thereby increasing the incentives for the demand planners to invest effort, which is anticipated by the production planners and leads to increased supply chain profitability.

September 22nd, 2015

Dr. Etienne Bressoud, Innovation & Marketing Sciences Manager at BVA (opinion and market research agency). 

"Behavioral practices : Behavioral Economics and Eye-tracking"

April 2nd, 2015

Professor Radu Vranceanu,  ESSEC Business School, Economics Department

"Gender Interactions in Team Production: Performance and Punishment" (Project in collaboration with Seeun Jung)


This paper analyzes the consequences of allowing for punishment in a real-effort pair production experiment. The behavior of the best performer in the team differs on whether he or she can impose a sanction on the less performing partner. When sanctions are not allowed, good performers reduce their effort in response to the advantageous difference in scores; when they can impose sanctions, their change in effort is no longer related to the difference in scores. To some extent, a sanction mechanism allows good performers to focus on their own performance. In the case of costless sanctions, not sanctioning a partner who under-performs, what we refer to as forgiveness, prompts the latter to improve his or her performance, but applying the sanction has a stronger push effect.

March 5th, 2015

Professor Geneviève Helleringer, ESSEC Business School, Public and Private Policy Department

"Testing the efficacy of disclosure: A study of retail investment, advice and conflicts of interest.​"