Professor Simon Gächter






Welcome to my personal webpage!

Here you find a short version of my CV, information on my research (with links to downloadable papers) and teaching, as well as some links to media appearances.


Back to my School Webpage


Curriculum Vitae

Personal data

Born 1965 in Nenzing (Vorarlberg), Austria

Austrian citizen


Economics and Philosophy at the University of Vienna, Graduation in Economics 1990.

Post-graduate education at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, Graduation 1992.

Doctoral Studies in Economics at the University of Vienna, Graduation 1994.

Academic Positions

10/92 – 06/94: Teaching fellow, University of Vienna.

04/94 – 10/94: Visiting Lecturer, University of Linz.

11/94 – 09/00: Lecturer, University of Zurich.

10/00 – 01/05: Professor of Economics, Chair of Applied Microeconomics, University of St. Gallen.

02/05 –           Professor of the Psychology of Economic Decision Making, School of Economics, University of Nottingham, UK, (CeDEx).


MacArthur Foundation Network on Economic Environments and the Evolution of Individual Preferences and Social Norms (USA) (2003-2009)

IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn

CESifo Munich

Research network "Integrating Cooperation Research in Europe" (2007-2010)

Affiliate of the Centre of Experimental Economics (CEE) at the University of Copenhagen

Affiliate of the AHRC Project "Culture and the Mind" (Sheffield)

Awards and Grants

National Latsis Prize 2004 (awarded by the Swiss National Science Foundation on behalf of the Latsis Foundation, Geneva) (Laudatio by Prof. Meinrad Perrez)

Gossen Award 2005 (awarded by the "Verein für Socialpolitik", the association of economists from Austria, Germany and Switzerland).

Elected member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

Fellow of the European Economic Association

European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Grant "Putting Strong Reciprocity into Context: The Role of Incentives, Social Norms, and Culture for Voluntary Cooperation", 05/2012-04/2017; €2m.

Professional Services

European Vice-President of the Economic Science Association (2009-2012).

Member of the Executive Committee (Treasurer) of the European Economic Association (2009-2012).

Member of the Executive Committee of the European Association of Labour Economists (2009-2012).

Member of Editorial Boards: Experimental Economics; Applied Economics Quarterly; Journal of Socio-Economics

Associate Editor: Management Science; Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization;Journal of Economic Psychology.

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the University of Cologne

Member of the Scientific Adivsory Board of the Bonn Graduate School of Economics

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Institute in Economics, Jena

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW), Berlin

Download full CV as a file.



See also my pages on Ideas/Repec, Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Knowledge.

1. Discussion papers
2. Forthcoming papers
3. Journal articles
4. Replies, Comments, and Perspectives
5. Handbook chapters
6. Contributions to books and edited volumes
7. Book reviews


1. Discussion papers

Peer Effects and Social Preferences in Voluntary Cooperation. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6277, January 2012 (with Christian Thöni).

The Roles of Incentives and Voluntary Cooperation for Contractual Compliance CeDEx Discussion Paper No. 2011-06, June 2011 (with Esther Kessler and Manfred Königstein).

Individual-Level Loss Aversion in Riskless and Risky Choices. CeDEx Discussion Paper No. 2007-02 July 2007 (with Eric J Johnson and Andreas Herrmann).

Exploring the Nature of Loss Aversion. CeDEx Discussion Paper No. 2006-02 February 2006 (with Eric J. Johnson and Andreas Herrmann).

Do Incentive Contracts Undermine Voluntary Cooperation?, Working Paper No. 34, University of Zurich, April 2002 (with Ernst Fehr). (iewwp034.pdf )

2. Forthcoming papers:



3. Journal articles (selection):

"Peer Effects in Pro-Social Behavior: Social Norms or Social Preferences?" Journal of the European Economic Association 11(3), June 2013, 548-573 (with Daniele Nosenzo and Martin Sefton) (IZA Discussion Paper No. 6345)

"Living in Two Neighborhoods- Social Interactions in the Lab". Economic Inquiry, 51(1), January 2013, 563-578 (with Armin Falk and Urs Fischbacher). (working paper version)

"The Impact of Social Comparisons on Reciprocity". Scandinavian Journal of Economics 114(4), December 2012, 1346-1367 (with Daniele Nosenzo and Martin Sefton). (Working paper version)

"Who Makes a Good Leader? Cooperativeness, Optimism, and Leading-by-Example". Economic Inquiry 50(4), October 2012, 867-879 (with Daniele Nosenzo, Elke Renner, and Martin Sefton). (working paper version)

"On the Behavioral Validity of the Strategy Method in Public Good Experiments." Journal of Economic Psychology 33(4), August 2012, 897–913 (with Urs Fischbacher and Simone Quercia). (working paper version)

"The Framing of Games and the Psychology of Play". Games and Economic Behavior 73(2), November 2011, 459-478 (with Martin Dufwenberg and Heike Hennig-Schmidt). (Working paper version)

"Framing and Free Riding: Emotional Responses and Punishment in Social Dilemma Games". Experimental Economics 14(2), May 2011, 254-272 (with Robin Cubitt and Michalis Drouvelis). (Working paper version)

"Moral Judgments in Social Dilemmas: How Bad is Free Riding?" Journal of Public Economics, 95(3-4), April 2011, 253-264 (with Robin Cubitt, Michalis Drouvelis and Ruslan Kabalin). (working paper version)

"The limits of self-governance when cooperators get punished: Experimental evidence from urban and rural Russia". European Economic Review 55(2), February 2011, 193-210 (with Benedikt Herrmann) (working paper).

"Micromotives, microstructure and macrobehavior: The case of voluntary cooperation." Journal of Mathematical Sociology 35(1), February 2011, 26-65 (with Christian Thöni). (working paper)
This paper reports an extension of the experiments reported in Gächter and Thöni, "Social learning and voluntary cooperation among like-minded people", Journal of the European Economic Association, 3(2-3), 2005, 303-314.

"Social Comparison and Performance: Experimental Evidence on the Fair-Wage Effort Hypothesis." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 76(3), December 2010, 531-543 (with Christian Thöni) (working paper version).

"Culture and Cooperation". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences 365(1553), September 2010, 2651-2661 (with Benedikt Herrmann and Christian Thöni) (pdf).
See also the Special Issue on Cooperation and Deception in Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B September 12, 2010.

"The effects of (incentivized) belief elicitation in public good experiments." Experimental Economics 13(3), September 2010, 364-377 (with Elke Renner) (working paper).

"Private-collective innovation and the fragility of knowledge sharing". Research Policy 39(7), September 2010, 893-906 (with Georg von Krogh and Stefan Haefliger). (working paper)

"Sequential versus Simultaneous Contributions to Public Goods: Experimental Evidence". Journal of Public Economics 94(7-8), August 2010, 515-522 (with Daniele Nosenzo, Elke Renner and Martin Sefton). (working paper)

"Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Good Experiments" American Economic Review 100(1), March 2010, 541-556 (with Urs Fischbacher). (pdf)

"The Science of Experimental Economics". Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 73(1), January 2010, 122-131 (with Rachel Croson). (pdf)

"Are Experimental Economists Prone to Framing Effects? A Natural Field Experiment." in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 70(3), June 2009, 443-446 (with Henrik Orzen, Elke Renner and Chris Starmer).(pdf)

"Design a Contract! A Simple Principal-Agent Problem as a Classroom Experiment." Journal of Economic Education 40(2), Spring 2009, 173-187.
An earlier version is vailable as CeDEx Discussion Paper No. 2006-04 April 2006 (with Manfred Königstein). (Instructions, Decision sheets, and Results sheets in Word) (z-Tree based program design_a_contract.ztt)

"Reciprocity, culture, and human cooperation: Previous insights and a new cross-cultural experiment." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences 364, March 2009, 791-806 (with Benedikt Herrmann). (pdf) (supplementary materials)
See also the special issue on Group decision making in Humans and Animals in Phil. Trans. R. Soc B March 27, 2009.

"The Long-Run Benefits of Punishment" Science 322, 5 December 2008, 1510 (with Elke Renner and Martin Sefton). (paper) (supplementary information)

"Antisocial Punishment Across Societies" Science 319, 7 March 2008, 1362-1367 (with Benedikt Herrmann and Christian Thöni).

"Dividing Justly in Bargaining Problems with Claims: Normative Judgments and Actual Negtiations", Social Choice and Welfare 27, December 2006, 571-594 (with Arno Riedl). (pdf).

"Cournot Competition and Hit and Run Entry and Exit in a Teaching Experiment", Journal of Economic Education 37(4), 2006, 418-30 (with Christian Thöni and Jean-Robert Tyran). (Working Paper) (z-Tree based program cournot_and_entry.ztt)

"Social learning and voluntary cooperation among like-minded people", Journal of the European Economic Association, 3(2-3), 2005, 303-314 (with Christian Thöni) (Working Paper, with Instructions).
For an extension of this work, see also Gächter and Thöni: "Micromotives, microstructure and macrobehavior: The case of voluntary cooperation." Journal of Mathematical Sociology 35(1), February 2011, 26-65.

"Moral Property Rights in Bargaining with Infeasible Claims", Management Science, 51(2), 2005, 249-263 (with Arno Riedl).(pdf) (Working Paper, Instructions).

"Trust, voluntary cooperation, and socio-economic background: Survey and experimental evidence", Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization,55(4), 2004, 505-531 (with Benedikt Herrmann and Christian Thöni). (pdf)

"Altruistic punishment in humans." Nature 415, 10 January 2002, 137-140 (with Ernst Fehr). (pdf)

"Strong Reciprocity, human cooperation, and the enforcement of social norms." Human Nature 13(1), 2002, 1-25 (with Ernst Fehr and Urs Fischbacher). (pdf)

"Efficient Contracting and Fair Play in a Simple Principal-Agent Experiment." Experimental Economics 5(1), June 2002, 5-27 (with Vital Anderhub and Manfred Königstein). (iewwp018.pdf)

"Reputation and Reciprocity: Consequences for the Labour Relation." Scandinavian Journal of Economics 104(1), 2002, 1-27 (with Armin Falk) (pdf) (iewwp019.pdf).

"Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment." Economics Letters 71(3), June 2001, 397-404 (with Urs Fischbacher and Ernst Fehr).(pdf) (iewwp016.pdf)

"Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity", Journal of Economic Perspectives 14(3), Summer 2000, 159-181 (with Ernst Fehr) (iewwp040.pdf).

"Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments", American Economic Review 90(4), September 2000, 980-994 (with Ernst Fehr). (pdf)
A longer version that also contains the experimental instructions can be downloaded here:

"A simple mechanism for the efficient provision of public goods - Experimental Evidence", American Economic Review 90(1), March 2000, 247-264 (with Josef Falkinger, Ernst Fehr, and Rudolf Winter-Ebmer). (pdf)
The experimental instructions of this experiment are available here: Experimental Instructions of Falkinger, Fehr, Gächter and Winter-Ebmer (2000).

"Collective Action as a Social Exchange", Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 39, 1999, 341-369 (with Ernst Fehr). (pdf)

"Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives in a Repeated Game with Incomplete Contracts", Journal of Economic Psychology 20, 1999, 251-284 (with Armin Falk and Judit Kovács). (pdf)

"Reciprocity and Economics. The Economic Implications of Homo Reciprocans", European Economic Review 42, 1998, 845-859 (with Ernst Fehr). (pdf)

"When Social Norms Overpower Competition - Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets", Journal of Labor Economics 16, 1998, 324-351 (with Ernst Fehr, Erich Kirchler, and Andreas Weichbold). (pdf)

"Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device - Experimental Evidence", Econometrica 64, 1997, 833-860 (with Ernst Fehr and Georg Kirchsteiger). (pdf)


4. Replies, Comments, and Perspectives:

"A cooperative instinct" Nature 489, September 2012, 374-375. (pdf)

"The Carrot or Stick? Nature 483, March 2012, 39-40. (pdf)

"In the lab and the field: punishment is rare in equilibrium". Comment on Francesco Guala: Reciprocity: Weak or Strong? What Punishment Experiments Do (and Do Not) Demonstrate Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35(1), 2012, 26-28.

"(Dis)advantages of student subjects: What is your research question?" Comment on Henrich et al. The Weirdest People in the World?, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33(2-3), June 2010, 92-93 (pdf).

Cross-cultural differences in norm enforcement”, Comment on Joseph Henrich et al., "'Economic man' in cross-cultural perspective: Behavioral experiments in 15 small-scale societies", in: Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28(6), 2005, 822-823 (with Benedikt Herrmann and Christian Thöni). (pdf)

“Egalitarian motive and altruistic punishment” – Reply to James H. Fowler, Tim Johnson, Oleg Smirnov, Nature, 6 January 2005; doi:10.1038/nature0325 (with Ernst Fehr). (pdf)

"The puzzle of human cooperation" - Reply to Dominic D.P. Johnson, Pavel Stopka, Stephen Knights, Nature 421, 27 February 2003, 912 (with Ernst Fehr). (pdf)


5. Handbook chapters

Rationality, Social Preferences, and Strategic Decision-making from a Behavioral Economics Perspective", in Rafael Wittek, Tom AB Snijders, and Victor Nee (eds): The Handbook of Rational Choice Social Research, pp 33-71. Stanford: Stanford University Press 2013

"Experimental Labor Economics", in Steven Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume (eds): New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2008. (pdf)

“Reciprocity and Contract Enforcement”, Chap. 37 in: Charles Plott and Vernon Smith (eds.): Handbook of Experimental Economic Results, pp. 319-324. Amsterdam: North-Holland 2008 (with Ernst Fehr).

“Wage Differentials in Experimental Efficiency Wage Markets”, Chap. 15 in: Charles Plott and Vernon Smith (eds.): Handbook of Experimental Economic Results, pp. 120-126.Amsterdam: North-Holland 2008 (with Ernst Fehr).

"Altruistic Punishment", in: Roy F. Baumeister and Kathleen D. Vohs (eds.) Encyclopedia of Social Psychology, pp. 30-31. New York: SAGE 2007.

“Behavioural Economics”, in: Jens Beckert and Milan Zafirovski (eds.) International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology, pp. 25-28. London: Routledge 2006. (pdf)

“Behavioral Game Theory”, in: Derek J. Koehler and Nigel Harvey (eds): Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making, pp. 485-503. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers 2004. (pdf)

6. Contributions to books and edited volumes

"Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Cognition", in: Peter Hammerstein and Jeffrey R. Stevens (eds): Evolution and the Mechanisms of Decision Making. Strungmann Forum Reports, The MIT Press 2012.

"Rationality and Commitment in Voluntary Cooperation: Insights from Experimental Economics", in: Fabienne Peter and Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds): Rationality and Commitment. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007. (pdf)

"Conditional Cooperation. Behavioral Regularities from the Lab and the Field and their Policy Implications", in Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer (eds): Economics and Psychology. A Promising New Cross-Disciplinary Field. CESifo Seminar Series. The MIT Press July 2007. The working paper version is available here.

"Human Cooperation from an Economic Perspective", in Peter M. Kappeler and Carel P. van Schaik (eds): Cooperation in Primates and Humans. Mechanisms and Evolution. Heidelberg: Springer 2005 (with Benedikt Herrmann). (pdf)

"Fairness in the Labour Market - A Survey of Experimental Results", in: Friedel Bolle and Marco Lehmann-Waffenschmidt (eds): Surveys in Experimental Economics. Bargaining, Cooperation and Election Markets. Physica-Verlag 2002 (with Ernst Fehr). (iewwp114.pdf)

"Work motivation, institutions, and performance", in: Amnon Rapoport and Rami Zwick (eds): Experimental Business Economics. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002 (with Armin Falk). (iewwp062.pdf)

"Fairness and Retaliation", in: L.-A. Gérard-Varet, S.-C. Kolm and J. Mercier Ythier, (eds.): The Economics of Reciprocity, Giving and Altruism. London: Macmillan Press 2000 (with Ernst Fehr).

"Why firms refuse to hire underbidders", in: Peter de Gijsel, Ralph Olthoff, Thomas Zwick (eds.): The unemployment debate: current issues. Marburg: Metropolis Verlag 2000 (with Armin Falk).

"How Effective are Trust- and Reciprocity-Based Incentives?" in: Avner Ben-Ner and Luis Putterman (eds.): Economics, Values, and Organization. Cambridge University Press 1998 (with Ernst Fehr). (pdf)

7. Book reviews

"Becker, Gary S., and Murphy, K.M.: Social Economics - Market Behavior in a Social Environment. Harvard University Press 2001"; in: Journal of Economics (Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie) Vol. 77, 2002, 300-304.

"Truman Bewley: Why Wages Don't Fall During a Recession. Harvard University Press 1999", in: Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 157(3), 2001, 478-481.

"James Meade: Full Employment Regained? An Agathotopian Dream. Cambridge University Press 1995", in: Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics Vol. 153(2), 1997, 435-437.

"Pierre Picard: Wages and Unemployment: A study in non-Walrasian Macroeconomics. Cambridge University Press 1993"; in: Journal of Economics (Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie) Vol. 58, 1993, 320-324.



I currently don't teach. In the past I taught modules on Experimental and Behavioural Economics, Behavioural Economic Theory, Topics in Microeconomics for PhD students


Media appearances and public lectures

NZEEL Distingushed Lecture, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, on "What If we could predict human behaviour in labour markets?"

BBC Analysis programme on "Non-Riotous Behaviour".

Diffusion Science Radio (Australia) programme on "A Social Experiment".

Sydney Ideas Lectures on "Understanding Cooperation in Humans".

Zoological Society of London: "Why be Nice?"

Interview with "Der Spiegel" (in German)

BBC Frontiers programme on "Human Cooperation"


University of Nottingham

Nottingham School of Economics

Economic Science Association

Verein fur Socialpolitik

Network of Swiss Economists Abroad



Web site maintained by Simon Gaechter

This page last updated on 4/06/13