Areas of Expertise
- Benefit-Cost Analysis
- Behavioral Economics
- Behavior Change
- Public Health
Dan Acland is a behavioral economist whose research focuses on the theory, practice, and political science of behavior change. In addition he is a specialist in benefit-cost analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis. Past work has included a field experimental test of behavioral-economic theories of habit-formation and health-related behavior change, as well as a large-scale online experiment on the effectiveness of voluntary self-control mechanisms for online game players. Current and ongoing projects include development of a theoretical model of bounded rationality in future self-control beliefs and an online survey-experiment test of the political psychological dimensions of behavioral-economic inspired public policy agendas. In addition, Dr. Acland has collaborated on a cost-effectiveness study of incentives for HIV peer-recruitment, and on a comparison of the theoretical foundations of financial incentives and gamification for public-health related behavior change. Dr. Acland is an active member of the interdisciplinary Behavior Change Research Network at U.C. Berkeley. His teaching includes a graduate class in benefit-cost analysis, and an undergraduate class in behavioral-economics and public policy.
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GSPP Working Paper (December 2013)
We develop a model capturing habit formation, projection bias, and present bias, and conduct a field experiment to identify its main parameters. We implement an exogenous habit-formation intervention, and elicit subjects' predictions of post-treatment gym attendance: projection-biased subjects will underestimate habit-formation; naive present-biased subjects will overestimate attendance. We find subjects form a signicant short-run habit, but appear not to predict this habit ex-ante. Approximately one-third of subjects formed a habit, equivalent on average to the eect of a $2.60 per-visit subsidy. Their predictions correspond to 90% projection bias. The small post-treatment incentives involved in our elicitation mechanism appear to crowd-out the new habit, as subjects appear to correctly predict. Subjects greatly over-predict future attendance, which we interpret as evidence of partial naivete with respect to present bias: they appear to expect their future selves to be two-thirds less present biased" than they currently are. The combination of naivete and projection bias helps explain limited take-up of commitment devices by dynamically inconsistent agents, and points to new forms of contracts.
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Undergraduate behavioral economics course materials.
- Lecture videos
- Lecture handouts, solved problem sets, solved exams, and syllabus will be posted as soon as I can figure out how to upload documents.