Date of Award

Summer 6-12-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

James C. Cox

Second Advisor

Kurt E. Schnier

Third Advisor

Vjollca Sadiraj

Fourth Advisor

Cary A. Deck


This dissertation consists of three chapters that focus on topics in fields of experimental economics and health economics.

The first chapter, “Do I Care if You Know I Betrayed You?” , examines how concern for others’ disutility from betrayal can affect the decision to repay trust in the trust game. We use a laboratory experiment to compare trustees’ behavior when betrayal is obfuscated to an identical monetary payoffs situation where betrayal is revealed. We find that more trustees choose to defect in our experiment when betrayal is obfuscated than when it is revealed. Our result suggests that concern for betrayal costs influences not only the decision to trust but also the decision to repay trust.

The second chapter, “Increasing Organ Donation via Changes in the Default Choice or Allocation Rule”, utilizes a laboratory experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative public policies targeted at increasing the rate of deceased donor organ donation. The experiment includes treatments across different default choices and organ allocation rules inspired by the donor registration systems applied in different countries. Our results indicate that the opt-out with priority rule system generates the largest increase in organ donation relative to an opt-in only program. However, sizeable gains are achievable using either a priority rule or opt-out program separately, with the opt-out rule generating approximately 80% of the benefits achieved under a priority rule program.

The third chapter, “Improving the Approach to Organ Donor Registration”, proposes to improve organ donor registry by providing a persuasive message with the registration request. I designed a laboratory experiment to examine the impact of the persuasive message on donation decisions. The results indicate that the persuasive message has a positive impact on donation decisions in the early rounds of the experiment. Subjects were about 21 percent more likely to register as a donor in round 1 of the experiment when they were provided with a persuasive message. This behavioral difference across treatment decreased as subjects played more rounds, since subjects in the control treatment learned the information in the persuasive message through playing the game. We further find this treatment effect is mainly from subjects who are not organ donors in real life, while the treatment effect is very small for those who are self-reported organ donors.