Luca Henkel

I am a Ph.D. student in economics at the University of Bonn. My research field is behavioral and experimental economics. I am interested in moral decision making and decision making under uncertainty. My advisors are Armin Falk and Florian Zimmermann.

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Luca Henkel

Working Papers

Eliciting Moral Preferences: Theory and Experiment | with Roland Bénabou, Armin Falk and Jean Tirole

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We examine to what extent a person's moral preferences can be inferred from observing their choices, for instance via experiments, and in particular, how one should interpret certain behaviors that appear deontologically motivated. Comparing the performance of the direct elicitation (DE) and multiple-price list (MPL) mechanisms, we characterize in each case how (social or self) image motives inflate the extent to which agents behave prosocially. More surprisingly, this signaling bias is shown to depend on the elicitation method, both per se and interacted with the level of visibility: it is greater under DE for low reputation concerns, and greater under MPL when they become high enough. We then test the model's predictions in an experiment in which nearly 700 subjects choose between money for themselves and implementing a 350 € donation that will, in expectation, save one human life. Interacting the elicitation method with the decision's level of visibility and salience, we find the key crossing effect predicted by the model. We also show theoretically that certain "Kantian" postures, turning down all prices in the offered range, easily emerge under MPL when reputation becomes important enough.

Payments and freedoms: Effects of monetary and legal incentives on COVID-19 vaccination intentions in Germany | with Philipp Sprengholz and Cornelia Betsch

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Monetary and legal incentives have been proposed to promote COVID-19 vaccination uptake. To evaluate the suitability of incentives, an experiment with German participants examined the effects of payments (varied within subjects: 0 to 10,000 EUR) and freedoms (varied between subjects: vaccination leading vs. not leading to the same benefits as a negative test result) on the vaccination intentions of previously unvaccinated individuals (n = 782). While no effect could be found for freedoms, the share of participants willing to be vaccinated increased with the payment amount. However, a significant change required large rewards of 3,250 EUR or more. While monetary incentives could increase vaccination uptake by a few percentage points, the high costs of implementation challenge the efficiency of the measure and call for alternatives. As experimental data suggest that considering vaccination as safe, necessary, and prosocial increases an individual’s likelihood of wanting to get vaccinated without payment, educational campaigns should emphasize these features when promoting vaccination against COVID-19.

Work in Progress

Experimental Evidence on the Relationship between Perceived Ambiguity and Likelihood Insensitivity

| Manuscript in preparation

What determines likelihood insensitivity in choices under ambiguity? This paper investigates ambiguity perception - the extent to which a decision-maker has difficulties assigning a single probability to each possible event - as a potential determinant, a mechanism that is proposed by multiple prior models. I test this mechanism with an experiment where I separately elicit a measure of likelihood insensitivity from choice behavior and a belief-based measure capturing ambiguity perception. The latter measure is validated using an exogenously induced increase in the degree of ambiguity. I find that increases in ambiguity perception caused by the exogenous increases in ambiguity lead to increases in likelihood insensitivity. Further, ambiguity perception and likelihood insensitivity are significantly positively correlated. Taken together, these findings provide strong support for an ambiguity perception based explanation of likelihood insensitivity.

Perceptions and Realities: Kantians, Utilitarians and Actual Moral Decisions | with Roland Bénabou and Armin Falk

Stereotypes about stockholders | with Christian Zimpelmann