Behavioral Economics and Policy Program Welcomes Two New Faculty Members

The Behavioral Economics and Policy Program (BEPP) at Texas A&M University is pleased to announce the arrival of two new faculty members to the team. Dr. Marco Castillo and Dr. Ragan Petrie have come to Texas A&M’s Department of Economics from George Mason University.

The BEPP is excited to have them join the Texas A&M experimental economics team.

Ragan Petrie

Ragan Petrie

Marco Castillo

Marco Castillo









Welcome, Ragan and Marco!



PhD Students Attend Barcelona Graduate School of Economics Summer Forum

Ada Kovaliukaite, fourth-year experimental economics PhD student, and Mackenzie Alston, third-year experimental economics PhD student, were selected to participate in the 2016 Barcelona Graduate School of Economics’ (GSE) Summer Forum in Barcelona, Spain.

The Barcelona GSE forum took place from June 6 – 21, 2016, and was attended by students from all over the world. Participants received extensive training and experience in macroeconomic and collaborated with peers on group projects.

Catherine Eckel Presents lectures at Australian National University

catherine-eckel-visit-1-1Catherine Eckel, Sarah and John Lindsey Professor in the Liberal Arts and University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics at Texas A&M University, gave several talks at Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, Australia, during July 2016.

Dr. Eckel gave an F.H. Gruen Public Lecture on “Shopping for Trust” on July 19, 2016. In contrast to most research on trust, in this study (joint with Rick Wilson) Dr. Eckel uses lab experiments to show that choosing a partner substantially increases trust and reciprocity in an incentivized trust game.  Partner choice is based on viewing the photographs of potential counterparts, and trusters are able to select counterparts who are more trustworthy.  That is, potential partners that appear to be honest and trustworthy prove to reciprocate larger amounts in the trust game.

She also gave two talks to ANU’s Gender Institute on July 20, 2016 (pictured below).  These consisted of a talk on mentoring female graduate students and junior faculty, and another one on lab experimental research on gender differences in financial market behavior.

Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Visits Experimental Economics Group

On Friday, April 1, 2016, Dr. Pamela Matthews, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, visited the TAMU experimental economics group (including the Behavioral Economics and Policy Program, BEPP, and the Economic Research Laboratory, ERL). This was her first meeting with the experimental economics group.

Dean Matthews met with faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and student workers. Discussion included what projects the group was working on as well as future goals. Dean Matthews also had the opportunity to tour the facilities and participate in an ERL experiment.

TAMU Experimental Economics Group Participates in 2016 TExAS Conference

From March 12 – 13, 2016, members of the TAMU experimental economics group presented at and attended the 2016 TExAS Conference at Rice University in Houston, TX.

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Presenters this year included:

  • Alex Brown: “Separated Decisions”
  • Daniel Stephenson (5th year PhD student): “Coordination and Evolutionary Dynamics in Attacker-Defender Games”
  • Wei Zhan (4th year PhD student): “Playing Both Roles in Dictator Games”
  • Ada Kovaliukaite (3rd year PhD student): “Does an Individual Have Diverse Beliefs? Eliciting Subjects’ Predictions of How a Population Plays” (poster)
  • Billur Aksoy (3rd year PhD student): “Measuring Trust: A Reinvestigation” (poster)

In addition to the presenters, a number of other PhD students and TAMU faculty members also attended.


The TExAS Conference was founded in 2014 by Dr. Brown, director of the ERL, as a way for experimentalists in Texas to collaborate with and learn from each other.

21st Visiting Graduate Student Workshop in Experimental Economics: January 5 to 9, 2016

From January 5 – 9, 2016, the 21st Visiting Graduate Student Workshop in Experimental Economics was held at Chapman University. Sponsored by IFREE since 1997, the purpose of this workshop is to provide an introduction to laboratory methods in economics for PhD students.

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Billur Aksoy and Mackenzie Alston, students of the PhD Program at Texas A&M, Department of Economics, participated in this workshop and interacted with Dr. Vernon Smith.



TAMU at the Texas Economic Theory Camp, University of Texas, Austin – November 14 and 15, 2015

Daniel Fragiadakis and Daniel Stephenson traveled to Austin, Texas, to present research at the fourth Texas Economic Theory Camp held at the University of Texas at Austin from November 14 – 15, 2015. The purpose of the camp is to foster greater interaction among researchers working in pure and applied economic theory in Texas as well as to provide a forum for scholars to present their current research.

Daniel Stephenson presented his paper “Coordination and Evolutionary Stability in Attacker- Defender Games.” This study investigates the empirical validity of dynamic evolutionary models in continuous-time laboratory experiments with attacker-defender games.

This research studied two treatments: control and coordinated. Consistent with the theory, behavior is tightly clustered around the equilibrium in the control treatment. In the coordinated treatment, however, there are large cyclical deviations from the Nash Equilibrium. These results suggest that coordination incentives can lead to more predictable attacks in attacker-defender games.