J. Lucas Reddinger

  • Post-doctoral researcher
    Menard Family Initiative
    College of Business Administration
    University of Wisconsin, La Crosse
  • Behavioral and Experimental Economics
  • Applied Microeconomic Theory (Decision Theory)
  • Managerial and Labor Economics

Curriculum vita: Updated 13 April 2022

Email: lreddinger@uwlax.edu   [PGP 0x4D445E28]

JLR Portrait


“Prosocial motivation for vaccination”

Vaccination has both private and public benefits. We ask whether social preferences—concerns for the well-being of other people—influence one’s decision regarding vaccination. We measure these social preferences for 549 online subjects: We give each subject $4 to play a public-good game and make contributions to public welfare. To the extent that one gets vaccinated out of concern for the health of others, contribution in this game is analogous to an individual’s decision to obtain vaccination. We collect COVID-19 vaccination history separately to avoid experimenter-demand effects. We find a strong result: Contribution in the public-good game is associated with greater demand to voluntarily receive a first dose, and thus also to vaccinate earlier. Compared to a subject who contributes nothing, one who contributes the maximum ($4) is 48% more likely to obtain a first dose voluntarily in the four-month period that we study (April through August 2021). People who are more pro-social are indeed more likely to take a voluntary COVID-19 vaccination.

“Can theories of social identity help increase uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine? A randomized trial”

Widespread vaccination is certainly a critical element in successfully fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. We apply theories of social identity to design targeted messaging to reduce vaccine hesitancy among groups with low vaccine uptake, such as African Americans and political conservatives. We conducted an online experiment from April 7th to 27th, 2021, that oversampled Black, Latinx, conservative, and religious U.S. residents. We first solicited the vaccination status of over 10,000 individuals. Of the 4,609 individuals who reported being unvaccinated, 4,190 enrolled in our covariate-adaptive randomized trial. We provided participants messages that presented the health risks of COVID-19 to oneself and others; they also received messages about the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine and an endorsement by a celebrity. Messages were randomly tailored to each participant’s identities—Black, Latinx, conservative, religious, or being a parent. Respondents reported their intent to obtain the vaccine for oneself and, if a parent, for one’s child. We report results for the 2,621 unvaccinated respondents who passed an incentivized manipulation check. We find no support for the hypothesis that customized messages or endorsers reduce vaccine hesitancy among our segments. A post hoc analysis finds evidence that a vaccine endorsement from Dr. Fauci reduces stated intent to vaccinate among conservatives. We find no evidence that tailoring public-health communication regarding COVID-19 vaccination for broad demographic groups would increase its effectiveness. We recommend further research on communicators and endorsers, as well as incentives.

“Temptation: Immediacy and certainty”

Is an option especially tempting when it is both immediate and certain? To study the effect of risk on present bias, I conduct an online experiment in which workers allocate about thirty minutes of real-effort tasks between two weeks. I compare choices made two days before the first workday against choices made when work is imminent. In baseline treatments, one choice is randomly implemented; meanwhile, one treatment implements a particular allocation with certainty. By assuming that effort costs are not affected by the mechanism (and thus independent of risk preferences), my novel design permits estimation of present bias using a decision with a consequence both immediate and certain. I find the average intensity of present bias is far greater under certainty than under risk. I find no evidence that present bias is more pervasive among individuals, suggesting instead that present-biased individuals become more myopic.

“Wage Policies, Incentive Schemes, and Motivation”

We review experimental and field evidence of how effort and performance in the labor market is affected by financial incentives and non-monetary motivators. Especially small incentives may crowd-out intrinsic motivation, while large incentives may cause choking. A wide variety of social preferences affect labor supply, including gift exchange, fairness, and reciprocity.

Cows at pasture in Santa Ynez valley, on Ektar film.
Cows at pasture in Santa Ynez valley, on Ektar film.

About me

I was born and raised in Wyoming and Montana. Some of my favorite places include the Beartooth and Bighorn Mountains, and the entire Absaroka region—all in the vicinity of Yellowstone National Park, which my family simply called “the park.” I studied philosophy, economics, and mathematics as an undergraduate at Montana State University in Bozeman.

I independently learned about web engineering (various programming languages, database systems, and operating systems) in my younger years. I took a challenging and rewarding web development contract with a start-up after my undergraduate program. Once I completed my Master’s degree in economics at Montana State University in Bozeman, I worked full-time as a professional software engineer.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to return to academia and obtain my Ph.D. in economics at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where my favorite pastime was reading economics articles at the beach. I am now excited to teach and research at the College of Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse!

I enjoy yoga, running, cycling, and bouldering. I also shoot film photography—sometimes with only a disposable camera! I indent code with four spaces in Vim; I grew up on (and still use) OpenBSD and FreeBSD.

An ocean sunset near Santa Barbara, on Ektar film.
An ocean sunset near Santa Barbara, on Ektar film.