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Siyu Wang 

Ph.D. Candidate in Economics
Interdisplinary Center for Economics Science (ICES)
George Mason University

FIELDS OF SPECIALIZATION                                          
Primary: Experimental Statistics and Methods, Microeconomics Theory
Applied Econometrics, Industrial Organization

"Demanding or Deferring? The Economic Value of Communication with Attitude"  (with Daniel Houser)   Under Review

This paper investigates why cheap-talk natural language communication is systematically found to promote coordination better than predetermined intention signaling. We hypothesize the reason is that, when communicating with natural language, people both use and respond to intentions and attitudes, where attitude indicates the strength of a message sender’s desire to have her message followed. We test our hypothesis using controlled laboratory experiments in both the United States and China. We find (i) free-form messages do include both signaled intentions and attitudes; (ii) people respond both to intentions and attitudes when making decisions; and (iii) the use of attitude significantly improves coordination. Moreover, while males and females recognize and respond to intentions and attitude equally well, we find females are more likely to send more demanding signals than males, while males send messages focused more on the equilibrium outcome than attitude. Overall, we find that natural language communication in our environment can be well-modeled by a language that includes both intentions and attitudes. Our research helps to identify the features of natural language communication that promote coordination, and also sheds light on the nature of communication systems that may promote efficient economic outcomes.

"Using an Exogenous Mechanism to Examine Efficient Probabilistic Punishment" (with Xiangdong Qin) Journal of Economic Psychology, 39 (2013):1-10, leading article

Free riding can be made more costly by increasing either the probability of being caught or the severity of the punishment. However, neither option is without cost. What is the tradeoff between these strategies? In this study, we introduce an exogenous punishment mechanism that varies the probability and magnitude of punishment to examine this tradeoff. In our punishment system, sanctions are imposed on the lowest contributor according to a predetermined probability rather than assigned by the participants. Our results indicate that exogenous punishment enhances cooperation. Moreover, we show that a punishment of an intermediate magnitude imposed with a 50% probability is significantly more effective than a more severe punishment with a 10% probability or a lesser but certain punishment, even though the expected value of the punishment is equal across the punishment treatments.

"The Effect of Payment Method on Sanctions: An Experimental Investigation
" (with Xiangdong Qin)
Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, forthcoming (2015)

The method of payment for penalties such as traffic tickets or library fines has become increasingly digitalized, with possible implications on the future effectiveness of deterring opportunistic behavior. Several recent experimental studies have suggested that people treat digital cash equivalents differently from physical cash. This paper is the first to compare the efficacy of punishment between cash and electronic cash-exchangeable penalties in a laboratory setting. Our results indicate that while both forms of punishment increase cooperation, cash penalties are significantly more effective. Interestingly, this difference gradually disappears over time.

"Embezzlement, Whistleblowing and Organizational Architecture: An Experimental Investigation" (with Michael Makowsky)   Under Review

This paper investigates the optimal shape of organizations to reduce embezzlement. We stylize embezzlement and whistleblowing behavior as a synthesis of a public goods and an ultimatum game. In the game, agents move sequentially along an organizational architecture, can take a share of the available resources, and can choose to "blow the whistle", an action that sets all payoffs to zero. The resources not taken will grow and benefit all agents. Six basic organizational architectures are tested, pure horizontal, two-level pyramid and inverse pyramid, three-level pyramid and inverse pyramid and pure vertical. Our results suggest that flat and pyramid structures are more effective at reducing embezzlement. Rates of embezzlement and whistleblowing increase with the number of levels in the structure. Holding the number of levels constant, embezzlement rates are lower in pyramid shaped structures than inverted-pyramid shaped structures, while whistleblowing rates are unchanged. Our results are relevant to public agencies, foreign aid, charitable nonprofits, and other contexts where capital leakage is a common problem and the costs of whistleblowing are borne broadly by the members of the organization and beneficiaries of the public good.



"The Power of Natural Language Advice in Social Learning" (with Daniel Houser)

"Natural Language Communication on Networks: An Experiment" (with Daniel Houser)

"Sequential Deliberation with Heterogeneous Discount Factors: Theory and Experiments" (with Cesar Martinelli and Mikhail Freer)


"Breaking Bad in the Lab: An Experimental Analysis of Deception" (with David Eil and Daniel Houser)

Social Effect

"Reflection Problem of Social Interaction in Labor Market"  (with Daniel Houser)

Online Market

"The Effect of Referral Money Allocation: A Online Field Experiment" (with Xiaofei Du and Daniel Houser)


"The Feather-in-the-Cap Effect: limits of the Relative Income Hypothesis" (with Elias Lafi Khalil, Daniel Houser and Jason Aimone)

       Copyright 2012-2015 Siyu Wang | Last modified: August, 2015