Stephan Jagau

The paper ‘Defaults, normative anchors, and the occurrence of risky and cautious shifts’ by PhD student Stephan Jagau (University of Amsterdam) and fellow Theo Offerman (University of Amsterdam) is the forthcoming lead article of the July 2018 issue of the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty. The paper is based on the MPhil thesis of Stephan, which previously won the University of Amsterdam thesis prize 2016 and the SABE/IAREP/Elsevier Student Paper Award 2016. Read the full paper here.

Stephan is a Tinbergen Institute MPhil alumnus (cum laude, 2015) and a PhD student at Center for Research in Experimental Economics and political Decision-making (CREED) at the University of Amsterdam under the supervision of fellows Theo Offerman and Matthijs van Veelen. He expects to defend his dissertation upcoming October. Stephan starts a postdoctoral researcher position at the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences (University of California, Irvine, United States) in October.


Choice shifts occur when individuals advocate a risky (safe) decision when acting as part of a group even though they prefer a safe (risky) decision when acting as individuals. Even though research in psychology and economics has produced a mass of evidence on this puzzling phenomenon, there is no agreement about which mechanism produces choice shifts. In an experiment, we investigate the performance of two prominent mechanisms that have been proposed to explain the phenomenon; (i) rank-dependent utility and (ii) a desire to conform to the wishes of the majority. The evidence provides clear support for the conformity explanation.

Article citation: S. Jagau and T.J. Offerman, ‘Defaults, normative anchors, and the occurrence of risky and cautious shifts’, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Vol. 56 (3), July 2018, p.p. 1-26.