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.


Institute for Research on

Poverty (IRP) Webinar




November 4, 2015

Society for




Miami, FL

Sept. 24-27, 2015


Economic Association



San Francisco, CA

January 03-05, 2016


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.


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