SBEE Seminar Series: Songfa Zhong

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

Ross R0420 

Putting Preference for Randomization to Work


Since ancient times, randomization devices such as coin flipping have been widely adopted as means for making decisions. This study presents the first experimental test of coin flipping as a nudge to help resolve choice difficulty in the setting of charity giving. We conduct a field experiment in which potential donors were given the option of coin flipping to determine which of two similarly favourable charities to donate to. We find that the inclusion of the coin flipping option increases the donation rate by 20 percent. Laboratory experiments replicate the observed patterns and shed further light on the underlying psychological mechanism. More generally, our results point to the power of coin flipping as a nudge when people must make difficult choices.

Speaker Bio 

Songfa Zhong is an associate professor in economics at the National University of Singapore. In 2018-19, he is an NUS fellow in the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Zhong uses a wide range of methodologies from behavioral economics and experimental economics to genetics and neuroscience to conduct research on decision making, encompassing theory, experiment, and application. Arising from the interdisciplinary nature of his research, Zhong’s works have appeared in economics-oriented journals such as American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of the European Economic Association, International Economic Review, Review of Economic and Statistics, Journal of and Management Science, as well as more biology-oriented ones including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Neuron, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and Neuroimage. He is also a Coordinating Editor of Theory and Decision. Zhong received his BA in accounting from Peking University in 2003 and his PhD in economics from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2009.

This seminar will take place from 11:45 am to 12:45 pm.