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University of Michigan School of Information


SBEE Seminar Series: Marie Claire Villeval

02/03/2021, 01:00 pm - 02:15 pm

Homophily, Peer Effects and Dishonesty

with Liza Charroin and Bernard Fortin


If individuals tend to behave like their peers, is it because of conformity, that is, the preference of people to align behavior with the behavior of their peers, homophily, that is, the tendency of people to bond with similar others, or both? We address this question in the context of ethical dilemmas. Using a peer effects model, we designed a real-effort laboratory experiment in which individuals could misreport their performance to earn more. Participants initially worked in isolation and then, depending on the condition, they were assigned peers at random or they could select their peers based on a signal on their past (dis-)honesty. This allowed us to estimate i) the effect of conformity on lying behavior, ii) the presence of homophily, and iii) whether the endogenous choice of peers generates a self-selection bias in the estimation of conformity. Our results reveal the presence of conformity on lying and homophily in the selection of peers but only among participants who were already behaving dishonestly in isolation. Participants who behaved honestly in isolation are indifferent to the information received about peers and thus, do not exhibit any preference for homophily. Conditional on the absence of a self-selection bias due to homophily, the size of peer effects is similar when peers are assigned exogenously and when they are selected by individuals.

Speaker Bio:

Marie Claire Villeval

Marie Claire Villeval is Research Professor in economics at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). She is affiliated with the GATE research institute at the University of Lyon, France, with IZA in Bonn and GLO. She is the director of GATE-LAB. She is President Elect of the Economic Science Association (ESA). She was the President of the French Economic Association (AFSE) and the Founding President of the French Association of Experimental Economics (ASFEE). She has been a member of the executive committee of the European Association of Labour Economists (EALE) for four terms and she is now Fellow of the EALE.

She is co-editor in chief of Experimental Economics and a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of the Economic Science Association, the Journal of Neurosciences, Psychology and Economics, the Review of Behavioral Economics. She was formerly co-editor of the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (2014-2016) and she was on the boards of Management Science, the Journal of Economic Psychology and the Journal of Public Economic Theory.

She is Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, the most prestigious distinction in France. She is also Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite. She is a member of the Academia Europaea and Fellow of the European Association of Labour Economists. She has been awarded the Silver Medal of CNRS In 2017 and the Revue Economique Prize in 2018.

She obtained her PhD in economics from the University Paris X Nanterre and her Habilitation from the University of Lyon.

Her main research interests focus on experimental economics, behavioral economics, public economics and personnel economics. They include the conduct of laboratory and field experiments on cheating and tax evasion, incentives and motivation, teamwork and leadership, punishment and cooperation, status seeking and ego utility, self-image, emotions. She has published in such economic journals as American Economic Review, Management Science, the Economic Journal, PNAS, Experimental Economics, Games and Economic Behavior, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Public Economics, Social Choice and Welfare, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Economic Inquiry, Industrial and Labor Relations Review.

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

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