Lydia Ashton


Postdoctoral Fellow

Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

University of Wisconsin, Madison

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. I recently completed my Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from University of California, Berkeley. My research interests include  Psychology and Economics, Experimental Economics, Neuroeconomics, and Public Economics. I endeavor to increase our understanding of the role that psychological and physiological factors play on economic decision-making. I believe this knowledge can inform and guide policy makers in designing and improving public policies. In particular, I study the effects that cognitive biases and visceral states (e.g. inattention, mental fatigue, hunger) have on economic decisions.


Society for




Miami, FL

Sept. 24-27, 2015



Hunger Games:

Does Hunger Affect Time Preferences?

Using a novel laboratory experiment I find that hunger increases monetary impatience. This effect is larger when monetary rewards are immediate, which shows that present bias is a visceral response and can help explain why the poor tend to make more shortsighted economic decisions. Given possible confounds between physical and mental resource depletion, I also manipulated cognitive fatigue. I find that cognitive fatigue also increases monetary impatience; nevertheless this effect seems to be driven by a decrease in attention and an increase in heuristic-based choices. This suggests that hunger and cognitive fatigue affect time preferences through different mechanisms.

Left-digit bias and Inattention in Retail Purchases: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Chetty et al. (2009) find that consumers perceive tax-salience as a price increase, i.e. sales decrease when posting tax-inclusive prices. Using data from their unique experiment, I test whether individuals display inattention to the decimal digits of the price (i.e. left-digit bias). I find a larger decrease in sales of products in which tax salience shifts the left-most digit upwards, even though the tax rate is the same for all products. This study presents new evidence on left-digit bias from a quasi-random experiment, which also suggests that this is the main channel through which tax salience affects consumers' decisions.

©2015 Lydia Ashton