Thursday, August 20, 2015

Summary of AAEA Post-Conference Workshop Applying Behavioral and Experimental Economics to Food and Agri-Environmental Issues

Co-Organized by Carola Grebitus (ASU) and Christiane Schroeter (Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo), AAEA Food Safety and Nutrition Section (FSN)

We would like to provide a quick overview of our AAEA Post-conference Workshop on Behavioral and Experimental Economics, which took place July 29th at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. This Post-conference Workshop was organized by Carola Grebitus (FSN Member-at-Large) and Christiane Schroeter (FSN Chair). Brenna Ellison (FSN Member-at-Large); Jayson Lusk (AAEA President-Elect); Bidisha Mandal; and Kent Messer served as the organizing committee. Our workshop sold out, with 105 attendees and a waitlist.

The workshop outlined behavioral economic theoretical contributions, empirical and experimental tools and results that may help to explain the impact of economic behavior on food choice and participation in agri-environmental programs. The primary purpose of the workshop was to contribute to the attendees’ understanding of the theory, research methods, and tools for using behavioral and experimental economics to analyze individual decision-making.

The program included five talks by speakers from the field of applied behavioral and experimental economics as it relates to food and agri-environmental issues. Two keynotes were provided by David Just from Cornell University on “Behavioral Nudges and Policy: Why Choice Matters and Why it Doesn't,” and Paul Ferraro from Johns Hopkins University on “Applying Behavioral Economics to Improve Environmental Policy: Knowns and Unknowns.” In addition, three invited speakers presented their research. Collin Payne from New Mexico State University presented research on “Behavioral Economic Nutrition Interventions in the Grocery Store: Retail, Consumer, and Economic Sustainability;” Michele Belot from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland provided insights into “Habitual Behavior in the Context of Diet,” and Andrew Hanks from The Ohio State University discussed “Are You Going to Eat That? Key Insights from Behavioral Economics into Food Selection and Intake Decisions.”

During the lunch break, a “Mini-Mentoring-Meeting” session took place. The AAEA Trust sponsored this session. Graduate students and young professionals gathered in small groups together with experienced researchers and discussed their own experimental designs. Before the workshop, the participants of this session provided their mentors with abstracts to get feedback. The format of this session was a guided discussion. The senior researchers serving as mentors were Michele Belot (University of Edinburgh, Scotland); Gregory Colson (University of Georgia); Paul Ferraro (Johns Hopkins University); Andrew Hanks (The Ohio State University); Lisa House (University of Florida); Wuyang Hu (University of Kentucky); Kristin Kiesel (California State University, Sacramento); Bidisha Mandal (Washington State University); Brandon McFadden (University of Florida); Kent Messer (University of Delaware); Collin Payne (New Mexico State University); Adam Rabinowitz (University of Connecticut); Trenton G. Smith (University of Otago, New Zealand); and Jordan Suter (Colorado State University). A total of 32 students participated in the Mini-Mentoring Meeting. The mentoring groups covered: Beliefs of farmers, Landowner perception, risk -- psychological variables, Consumer and Health, Field experiments (lab experiments); Games, taxes, trading, cooperative behavior; Development economics, Ag development; Environment and Ecosystems; Food attributes and Willingness-to-pay; Choice experiments and Sensory; Incentivizing healthy behaviors; Production agriculture decisions; and Social learning, Social networks, Peer influences.

We closed the workshop with a panel discussion. Kent Messer from the University of Delaware joined our workshop speakers as panel members. The panel discussion provided a forum for attendees to ask questions and discuss matters of the workshop in a more elaborated way.

In addition to the generous funding by the AAEA Trust, and the AAEA Food Safety & Nutrition, we received substantial funding from the USDA-Economic Research Service (ERS), the Center for Behavioral & Experimental Agri-Environmental Research (CBEAR), and the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN Center). Non-monetary support was also received from the AAEA Graduate Student Section and the AAEA Institutional & Behavioral Economics Section. Thanks to all of our sponsors for a successful workshop!

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