Entrance MPI
Initially founded as a Max Planck institute that investigates the provision of collective goods, the institute has developed into an international hub that focuses in its research mainly on applied economics and on behavioral law. Moreover, the institute hosts three independent research groups on “economic cognition”, “moral courage”, and “mechanisms of normative change”. The set of researchers from various disciplines such as economics, law, psychology, and sociology constitutes a truly interdisciplinary environment that facilitates a cross-fertilization of ideas. The institute’s research expertise covers a wide range of subjects, including the formation of economic preferences, team decision making, the analysis of credence goods markets, the definition of normative problems that call for legal intervention, the effects of legal interventions, rule generation and rule application, the psychological processes of bystander interventions against norm violations, the cognitive and affective processes leading to choices, and reasoning about social norms.


October 19, 2018
"Nature Communications" published an article by Matthias Sutter, Loukas Balafoutas and Helena Fornwagner: "Closing the gender gap in competitiveness through priming"

Men have been observed to have a greater willingness to compete compared to women, and it is possible that this contributes to gender differences in wages and career advancement. Policy interventions such as quotas are sometimes used to remedy this but these may cause unintended side-effects. Here, we present experimental evidence that a simple and practically costless tool—priming subjects with power—can close the gender gap in competitiveness. While in a neutral as well as in a low-power priming situation men are much more likely than women to choose competition, this gap vanishes when subjects are primed with a high-power situation. We show that priming with high power makes competition entry decisions more realistic and also that it reduces the level of risk tolerance among male participants, which can help explain why it leads to a closing down of the gender gap in competitiveness.

See also the German article on the Max Planck Website:

Psychologischer Trick überbrückt Geschlechterdifferenz
Die Bereitschaft von Männern und Frauen, sich im Wettbewerb zu stellen, lässt sich angleichen

Frauen sind in der Gesellschaft immer noch benachteiligt, vor allem im Beruf: Sie werden häufig schlechter bezahlt als Männer und haben es schwerer, wenn sie Karriere machen wollen. Ein Grund dafür dürfte das weniger ausgeprägte Konkurrenzdenken von Frauen sein. In einem Versuch haben Wissenschaftler nun gezeigt, dass dieser Unterschied mithilfe des sogenannten Priming deutlich verringert werden kann. Bei der einfachen psychologischen Methode werden persönliche Erlebnisse ins Gedächtnis gerufen. [Link]


September 28, 2018

Cluster Proposal "ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy" Selected by German Research Foundation as Part of Excellence Strategy

Directors Hellwig and Sutter to Form Part of a Team of Principal Investigators

"ECONtribute: Markets & Public Policy", a joint proposal from the universities of Bonn and Cologne, is the only mainly economics-based proposal in Germany to have been selected as a so-called Cluster of Excellence within the framework of the German Universities Excellence Initiative. The researchers will study the functioning and workings of markets, as well as the reasons for the failure of these markets in the face of societal challenges, such as global financial crises, increasing inequality and digitization. The Cluster of Excellence goes beyond traditional analyses of economic policy by systematically combining model-based theoretical approaches and behavioural explanatory models with legal and political frameworks. In this way, the interdisciplinary working groups can offer political decision-makers innovative solutions that have so far barely found their way into economics and economic policy: How can market power be measured and how should it be faced in a digital age where many services are available virtually free of charge and are instead paid for by people disclosing their data? Further, what consequences does this have for consumer protection? What influence do preferences for fairness or justice have on the design of minimum wages or inheritance taxes? Can and should individual behaviour be controlled by instruments such as nudging if this appears to be for the benefit of the individual? The ECONtribute network intends to stimulate an intensive exchange between top research, politics and the public. The research will be undertaken in the Reinhard Selten Institute, which was founded by both universities in 2017.

Prof. Dr. Isabel Schnabel (University of Bonn) and Prof. Dr. Felix Bierbrauer (University of Cologne), both of whom are former members and current affiliates of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, will act as spokespersons. Professors Martin Hellwig and Matthias Sutter, respectively the former and the current director of this Max Planck Institute, will be among the principal investigators.

September 2018

Angelo Romano has won the FGB Junior Career award for his dissertation titled “The power of reciprocity to promote cooperation” (supervisor Daniel Balliet, promotor Paul van Lange). The faculty (c.q. the PEC) annually awards the FGB Junior Career Award to a talented PhD student who is in the latter stages of the PhD trajectory, or has recently graduated. The award is granted to the candidate as an appreciation of his/her contribution to the scientific field of study and as encouragement in the early stage of an a academic career.