PhD Defence: Job Harms
In his dissertation ‘Essays on the behavioral economics of social preferences and bounded rationality’, Job Harms presents a series of lab- and field-experiments about the drivers of social preferences, with a particular focus on bounded rationality, culture and beliefs.
Job Harms defended his dissertation in the Senate Hall at Erasmus University Rotterdam on Thursday, June 14 at 9:30. His supervisor is Prof. Harry Commandeur andhis co-supervisor is Dr Karen Maas. Other members of the Doctoral Committee are Prof. Dinand Webbink (EUR), Dr Jan Stoop (EUR), Dr Paul Smeets (Maastricht University), Prof. Stephanie Rosenkranz (Utrecht University), Dr Shaul Shalvi (University of Amsterdam), Dr Michel Marechal (University of Zurich).
Job Harms was born in 1985 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He obtained a BSc in Liberal Arts and Sciences at University College Utrecht in 2006. He then pursued a MSc in Development Economics at VU University Amsterdam. For this thesis he conducted field research in Kenya in partnership with the International Labor Organization, before obtaining his degree in 2010. Between 2011-2013 he worked for Triodos Facet, conducting research about the provision of financial services in developing countries. In 2013 he started working for Erasmus University as a research assistant, before starting his doctoral research in the fall of that year. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the faculty for behavioral and social sciences at Groningen University.
Humans sometimes behave very selfishly, yet in other cases they prefer to help others. These “social preferences” in turn play a key role in many economic phenomena ranging from financial fraud to charitable donations. This dissertation presents a series of lab- and field-experiments about the drivers of social preferences, with a particular focus on bounded rationality, culture and beliefs. These experiments are conducted in a diverse set of populations, ranging from bank employees to entrepreneurs in a developing country to professionals in charitable organizations. The results indicate that humans differ considerably in their prosociality. Furthermore, well-intended “nudges” such as a group-level ethics training can be ineffective or even cause more selfish behavior. In addition, it is shown that people have a tendency to interpret information such to justify their selfish tendencies. However, the results also indicate that small changes to the manner in which information is presented can cause people to make better choices for themselves, and for others.
Photos: Chris Gorzeman / Capital Images