Dissertation Defense: “Essays in Behavioral and Experimental Economics”, Xin Jiang

Date and Time
North Hall 2212


Xin Jiang, PhD Candidate, University of California, Santa Barbara


I am a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My research focuses on behavioral and experimental economics. I am particularly interested in understanding people’s preference and heuristics in information acquisition and group affiliation. In my job market paper, we have designed a laboratory experiment to study what response time reveals about the truth, considering the role of heuristics in truth acquisition.


The dissertation consists of three experimental studies on economics, including in-group bias, deception heuristics, and belief elicitation.

Chapter 1 studies the root of in-group bias. Literature has found that social identities and minimal group paradigm can generate in-group bias, but seldom studies what non-label activities could generate group affiliation. I study the effect of common experience on group affiliation through a lab experiment. The results show that common fortune experience works, while common misfortune does not. These results violate results from previous studies, and suggest that some other perspectives work beyond pure in-group favoritism, for example, the sense of deservingness.

Chapter 2 studies the response time in lying detection. The inclusion of response time indicators has become a common feature in the contemporary landscape of social media sites. What private information does the response time carry when there is a conflict of interest, and do people use it to improve their welfare? We portray a model and design a modified cheap talk game to study the intricate interplay between response time, private information, and its influence on users' well-being, tailored to situations where truth discovery is time consuming. Our investigation uncovers a noteworthy sender hope to not have to lie to get what she wants. Given this preference, the private information reveals the consideration process, instead of the mechanical discovery process. We find that when there is an apparent conflict of interest, the longer the response time, the less credible the message. However, receivers are unable to extract substantial welfare gains through the response time. Furthermore, when senders are aware of the availability of their response time, they are able to manipulate it.

Chapter 3 studies the belief elicitation method. Beliefs or perceptions play a central role in studying economic behavior, yet eliciting them accurately presents challenges. Existing elicitation methods, which involve soliciting participants' best point estimates of their beliefs, are susceptible to various biases, such as cognitive difficulty in pinpointing imprecise beliefs. Therefore, there is a need for methods that mitigate these biases. We introduce a novel elicitation method, Dynamic Binary Method (DBM). Unlike classical methods that require absolute judgments (CM), DBM prompts participants to make a series of binary relative judgments and allows them to state interval beliefs by exiting the process, thereby measuring the perceived precision of their beliefs. To assess the empirical validity of DBM, we compare participants' performance in a collection of existing perception tasks using this method with that of CM -- stating a point estimate of beliefs. The main finding is that, at the aggregate level, DBM yields similar results to CM. However, DBM outperforms CM when eliciting beliefs on tasks with extreme values as the objective truth. Additionally, we find that training with DBM improves the accuracy of participants' beliefs when using CM. Furthermore, we find a positive correlation between the length of participants interval beliefs, reflecting perceived precision, and objective accuracy. This underscores the significance of incorporating such information to enhance predictions of economic behavior.

JEL Codes: C92, D91, C70

Event Details

Join us to hear Xin’s dissertation defense. She will be presenting her dissertation titled, “Essays in Behavioral and Experimental Economics”. To access a copy of the dissertation, you must have an active UCSB NetID and password.