• Andreas Pondorfer

    I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Applied Microeconomics (IAME) at the University of Bonn.


    My research focuses on individual decision making by integrating insights from behavioral ecology, anthropology, and psychology into economics. I am particularly interested in studying the mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation and the deep-rooted factors that explain the origins and variation of preferences.


    My research is generally based on micro-level data and experimental data, which I often collect in extensive fieldwork (e.g., Papua New Guinea).


    Email: andi.pondorfer@gmail.com

    Twitter: @ponville86


  • Current projects

    Here are some of the projects I am currently involved in.

    The evolution of social complexity and human cooperation

    Costly punishment and indirect reciprocity may be relevant at different stages of human societal complexity. We hypothesize that cooperation is mainly sustained by concerns for one’s social image in communities where social density is high, i.e. where connections are highly clustered among individuals and then reliable information on one’s reputation can be quickly transmitted across the social network. On the contrary, we conjecture that costly punishment is the main factor of cooperation in societies where social density is relatively low. We test this hypothesis in a tribal small-scale society of Papua New Guinea.


    (With Susann Adloff, Peter Andre, Federico Camelli, Lorenz Götte, Gianluca Grimalda, Eleanor Power, Christoph Schütt, and Matthias Sutter)

    Regional convergence of preferences and beliefs in Europe

    We study the impact of international flights on the regional spatial allocation of preferences and beliefs. To identify causal effects, we exploit variation in the emergence of regional airports across Europe which gives rise to a discontinuity in connectedness between regions and cities at different points of time. We hypothesize that increasing connectedness via integration into the international flight network leads to the convergence of preferences and beliefs across regions. To empirically test our hypothesis, we rely on two datasets: The European Social Survey and airport traffic data from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).


    (With Toman Barsbai)

    Ancient climate conditions and norm violation

    In this project we examine how climatic conditions of individuals’ ancestors affect i) norm violation, ii) the degree of norm violation and iii) the delay in compensation for the norm violation (e.g., delay in payoffs). We use data on parking tickets from the city of Chicago between 2007 and 2016 and follow a within-subject design, i.e., we investigate how differences between the current weather and average climatic condition of ancestors affect an individual’s norm violating behavior.


    (With Toman Barsbai and Johannes Weber)

    Global social variation

    Studies in mammals and birds have identified that species with certain social behaviour are predominantly found in certain environments. This project investigates whether humans living in these environments show similar behaviour.


    (With Dieter Lukas and Toman Barsbai)

    In Deu Speramus: Religion, prosociality and cooperation across the globe

    What determines cooperation in human societies? How are societies organized to ensure prosociality and cooperation, especially when they are large? Religion, just as institutions might be a key element to achieve human cooperation. In this paper we contribute to these questions using globally representative data on preferences. First, we make a basic yet important contribution, which is that religion and preferences are not one. Second, we show that individuals who believe in Big Five religions (Christianism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism) exhibit more prosocial and cooperative preferences, as measured by their levels of negative and positive reciprocity, altruism and trust. Furthermore, we show that this coevolution of organized religions and prosocial behavior is stronger in more populous societies, consistent with the fact that the collective action problem increases with the number of members. Interesttingly, this key link is weaker in societies with stronger institutions, pointing towards a substitution between religion and institutions in the organization of socieites. Again, this effect is stronger in more populous societies. Overall, we find that religion could help explain the observed cooperative behavior in humans, an key puzzle in the scientific literature.


    (With Thomas Dohmen and Felipe Valencia Caicedo)

    The origins of inequality acceptance and the reward of merit

    In this project we analyze psychological traits from which human sense of fairness has originated and empirically test whether some psychological universal traits exist in the way humans deal with inequality. We implement this study in small-scale societies of Papua New Guinea. The small-scale societies are transitioning from a traditional system of exchange to a market-based system. In this way, they make it possible to study how greater exposure to markets shape individual attitudes. We sample villages that are connected through road to the main market town in the region and some others that are not, thus giving us quasi-exogenous variation in exposure to markets. Our project will permit the analysis of tolerance of inequality under different contexts and experimental conditions, thus offering an in-depth understanding of human behaviour in dealing with inequality.


    (With Gianluca Grimalda and Matthias Sutter)

  • Publications

    Gender differences in social risk taking

    Journal of Economic Psychology (forthcoming)

    (with Andreas Friedl and Ulrich Schmidt)

    publisher's website

    The perception of climate change: Comparative evidence from the small island societies of Bougainville and Palawan

    Environmental Development, Volume 30, June 2019, Pages 21-34

    Natural hazards and well-being in a small-scale island society

    Ecological Economics, Volume 159, pp. 344-353.

    (with Paul Lohmann and Katrin Rehdanz)

    publisher's website

    Social image concerns promote cooperation more than altruistic punishment

    Nature Communications, 7, p.12288.

    (with Gianluca Grimalda and David Tracer)

    publisher's website

    Gender differences in stereotypes of risk preferences: Experimental evidence from a patrilineal and a matrilineal society

    Management Science, 63(10), pp. 3268-3284.

    (with Toman Barsbai and Ulrich Schmidt)

    publisher's website

    Eliciting preferences for public goods in non-monetized communities: Accounting for preference uncertainty

    Land Economics 94(1), 73-86.

    (with Katrin Rehdanz)

    publisher's website

    Climate change and the risk of mass violence: Africa in the 21st century.

    Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy, 19(3), pp.381-392.

    (with Andreas Exenberger)

    publisher's website

  • Working Papers