I am a fourth year Ph.D.-candidate in economics at the Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE) working on topics in applied microeconomics and behavioral economics. In particular, I focus on peer effects and human capital formation. My supervisors are Lorenz Goette and Pia Pinger.
In many natural environments, carefully chosen peers influence individual behavior. In this paper, we examine how self-selected peers affect performance in contrast to randomly assigned ones. We conduct a field experiment in physical education classes at secondary schools. Students participate in a running task twice: first, the students run alone, then with a peer. Before the second run, we elicit preferences for peers. We experimentally vary the matching in the second run and form pairs either randomly or based on elicited preferences. Self-selected peers improve individual performance by .14-.15 SD relative to randomly assigned peers. While self-selection leads to more social ties and lower performance differences within pairs, this altered peer composition does not explain performance improvements. Rather, we provide evidence that self-selection has a direct effect on performance and provide several markers that the social interaction has changed.
Influence of peers is widely spread throughout many domains of our life like consumption, general well-being, and individual performance on the job or in school. However, peers that have an influence on us are not randomly selected, but might be carefully chosen. This paper describes students' preferences for peers and presents evidence on the individual determinants of peer choice. We find that students on average prefer peers of higher ability, but these preferences vary with their personality traits. Moreover, we validate the use of friendship ties as a proxy for peers and show how people choose peers from their social network. Regarding the design of peer assignment mechanisms, our results highlight the importance of accounting for the multidimensionality of peer preferences.
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Bonn Graduate School of Economics