PhD defence of Ning Liu on 3 February 2017

On Friday 3 February 2017 Ning Liu will defend his PhD thesis entitled 'Behavioral biases in interpersonal contexts'. His supervisor is Professor Aurélien Baillon and his co-supervisor is Professor Han Bleichrodt (both from Erasmus School of Economics). Other members of the Doctoral Committee are Dr Josse Delfgaauw (Erasmus School of Economics), Professor Enrico Diecidue (INSEAD), and Dr Jan Stoop (Erasmus School of Economics).

Time and location

The PhD defence will take place in the Senate Hall of Erasmus University Rotterdam and will start at 11.30 hrs.

About Ning Liu

Ning Liu was born on 18 February 1987 in Beijing, China. He received a Bachelor degree in management at Renmin University of China. He came to Rotterdam, and joined the MPhil program of ERIM in 2009. After receiving his master degree in 2011, he continued to pursue his PhD in Professor Peter P. Wakker’s Behavioral Economics group at Erasmus School of Economics, supervised by Professors Aurélien Baillon, Han Bleichrodt, and Peter P. Wakker.

In 2014, Ning was a visiting PhD student at Harvard University, hosted by Professor Eric S. Maskin. His research focuses on decision making in interpersonal environments. He is interested in human’s risk preference, time preference, and social preferences. In particular, he studies how human interaction affects these fundamental human preferences. He adopts both theoretical and empirical approaches. His current research also addresses the implicational issues of communicating uncertainty related to climate change. Ning’s research has appeared in leading journals including Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Theory and Decision, Nature Climate Change.

Ning Liu holds a research fellow position in the Center for Research on Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy (Istituto di Economia delle Fonti di Energia, IEFE) at University Luigi Bocconi of Milan.

About 'Behavioral biases in interpersonal contexts'

This thesis presents evidence suggesting that the same types of biases in individual decision making under uncertainty pertain in interpersonal contexts. The chapters above demonstrate in specific contexts how specific interpersonal factors attenuate, amplify, or replicate these biases.

One of the most natural interpersonal contexts is group decision making. The group effects on decisions consist of aggregation and communication, and disentangling these could help us improve our understanding of the group decision making process and make better predictions. Because the two measures of rationality applied in Chapter 2, namely stochastic dominance and EU-compliance, are both dichotomous, we use the simulated decisions from pure voting as benchmarks to isolate the communication effects.

Chapter 3 describes how simple pieces of information were provided to individuals, with the aim of helping them evaluate the quality of the estimates they received in interpersonal communication. Chapter 4 extends Yaari's definition of comparative risk aversion to enable comparisons between people holding different beliefs. The last chapter presents evidence that the mere presentation with cash could make a substantial psychological impact on people's risk attitudes by changing their likelihood insensitivity in probability weighting. The cash effects that lower valuations could potentially come from a buyer's evolutionary instinct in bargaining triggered by cash. Testing the existence of such instincts and, if they exist, finding what triggers them could be complementary to the current study.

More information

For more information about this ceremony, please contact Ronald de Groot, Communication Officer of the Erasmus School of Economics phone +31 10 408 1762 or by e-mail:

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