Skip to main content

University of Michigan School of Information


SBEE seminar series: Kirby Nielsen

10/06/2020, 10:00 am - 11:15 am

When Choices Are Mistakes


Using a laboratory experiment, we identify whether decision makers consider it a mistake to violate canonical choice axioms. To do this, we incentivize subjects to report which of several axioms they want their decisions to satisfy. Then, subjects make lottery choices which might conflict with their stated axiom preferences. We give them the opportunity to re-evaluate their decisions when lotteries conflict with desired axioms. We find that a majority of individuals want to follow the axioms and revise their lottery choices to be consistent with them. We interpret this to mean that many axiom violations in our sample were mistakes.


Speaker Bio:

Kirby Nielsen

Kirby Nielsen is an assistant professor of economics at Caltech. She received her PhD from The Ohio State University in 2018 and spent two years as a postdoc at Stanford before joining the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech. Her research uses laboratory experiments to test decision theory models and study individual decision making more broadly.

For information on how to watch this lecture and sign up for the SBEE mailing list to receive notice of upcoming events, please visit the SBEE website:

The Social, Behavioral and Experimental Economics seminar series is a joint presentation of the School of Information, the Ross School of Business and the LSA Department of Economics.