Eduardo Habitan Europa

The Effect of Scarcity on Children's Decisions

My project investigates the nature of basic human economic principles with special focus on the scarcity bias – the tendency to select objects in greater scarcity. A recent study observed children were more likely to choose an object from the less abundant of two sets (Markson, personal communication). Before explaining this behavior, I am seeking factors that could confound this bias. I plan to test children and adults and see if visual information is required for exhibiting this behavior. Subjects will have the option of choosing an object after providing only verbal information about the quantity of the two sets. This will test whether perceptual saliency is an important factor and also examine the dominance of the bias in either group.

Message to Sponsor

The opportunity to work on this independent research project is both appealing and daunting at the same time. The appeal arises from the fact that I will get a chance to become engrossed in a subject I find very intriguing and perhaps contribute to the investigation of this newly-addressed developmental topic. Currently, there is no literature on the scarcity bias and the work I do with this mentor could be the first! I am most worried about not obtaining any interesting results from my work over the summer. Nonetheless, I anticipate this summer and expect to use my SURF experience to help guide my future undergraduate and postgraduate career.
  • Major: Cognitive Science
  • Mentor: Lori Markson, Psychology