Si Chen

Si Chen Photo

I'm an Assistant Professor in Economics at the University of Vienna. I hold a Ph.D. degree from the University of Bonn.

Field of Research: Behavioral Economics.

  CV (PDF)
  Oskar-Morgenstern-Pl 1, 1090 Vienna, Austria


Working Paper

Fishing for Good News: Motivated Information Acquisition

(with Carl Heese , 2019 Econ Job Market Best Paper Award )

[Abstract]     [Current Version (Updated: Oct 2021)]     [Video]

The literature on motivated reasoning argues that people skew their personal beliefs so that they can feel moral when acting selfishly. We study dynamic information acquisition of decision-makers with a motive to form positive moral self-views and a motive to act selfishly. Theoretically and experimentally, we find that individuals “fish for desirable information”: they are more likely to continue (stop) acquiring information having received mostly information suggesting that acting selfishly is harmful (harmless) to others. Empirically, the tendency for this behavior is stronger among individuals with above-median cognitive ability. We discuss the resulting welfare effects. We relate our results to the literature on interpersonal Bayesian persuasion (Kamenica and Gentzkow, 2011).


Looking at the Bright Side: The Motivational Value of Confidence

(with Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch, European Economic Review 2019)

[Abstract]     [IZA Working Paper Version]

The motivational value of confidence postulates that individual effort provision is increasing in beliefs on one’s own ability. This relation is supposed to also hold for overconfident individuals who have exaggerated ability beliefs. We present the first empirical evidence on the existence of a motivational value of absolute confidence that many microeconomic models with overconfident agents build on. Moreover, we document that negative debiasing information on individual ability diminishes effort provision – a result that is of obvious relevance for many contexts such as labor relations or learning at school. We also offer a strategy for identifying significant absolute overconfidence at the individual level.

Work in Progress

Overconfidence and Deterrence in Contests

(with Alice Soldá )

Overconfidence and Self-Motivation

The Impact of Stress on Risk Taking

(with Thomas Dohmen and Elena Shvartsman; funded by Diligentia Foundation for Empirical Research)


In a laboratory experiment, we study the effect of acute and chronic stress on individual risk-taking behavior. We exogenously induce acute stress using the Trier Social Stress Test for Groups developed by von Dawans, Kirschbaum, and Heinrichs (2011). We measure subjects' acute stress by their heart rate, saliva cortisol levels, and their chronic stress by their hair cortisol levels. We elicit the subjects' risk-taking tendency by using randomized lottery pairs. Employing a within-subject design, i.e., eliciting each subject's risk-taking propensity both with and without the exogeneous acute stress, we aim to shed light on individuals' heterogeneous responses to acute stress in terms of risk-taking. It thereby contributes to the inconclusive literature on the causal effect of acute stress on risk-taking. It will also be among the first to study the impact of chronic stress and the interactive effect between chronic and acute stress on individual risk-taking behavior.


winter 2021 University of Vienna, Macroeconomics (undergrad), Instructor
summer 2021 University of Vienna, Principles of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (undergrad), Instructor
winter 2020 University of Vienna, Macroeconomics (undergrad), Instructor
spring 2018 Yale University, Introductory Macroeconomics (undergrad), Teaching Fellow
fall 2017 Yale University, Game Theory (undergrad), Teaching Fellow
summer 2017 Bonn University, Labor Economics (grad), Teaching Assistant