Director of CESS and Official Fellow at Nuffield College

Raymond Duch

Ray is an Official Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and the Director of the Nuffield Centre for Experimental Social Sciences (CESS), which currently has centres in Oxford (UK), Santiago (Chile) and Pune (India). Prior to assuming these positions he was the Senator Don Henderson Scholar in Political Science at the University of Houston. He received his BA (Honours) from the University of Manitoba in Canada and his MA and PhD from the University of Rochester. In addition, he has held visiting appointments at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona; the Hoover Institute and the Graduate School of Management, Stanford University; the Institute for Social Research Oslo; the Université de Montréal; and the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung. He is currently the Long Term Visiting Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Toulouse School of Economics.

He draws on theory, experiments and public opinion analysis to understand how citizens solve decision-making challenges. This includes looking at how citizens use information shortcuts to make decisions. For example in ‘Context and Economic Expectations: When Do Voters get it Right?’ (British Journal of Political Science, 2010), he demonstrates how information shortcuts result in quite accurate expectations regarding price fluctuations in 12 European countries. One of his current areas of interest is the micro-foundations of cheating and unethical behaviour. He has run real effort tax compliance experiments designed to understand who cheats at taxes, the results of which are summarized in ‘Why We Cheat?’ (currently under review). An extension of this project examines tax compliance in different tax regimes.

Ray has served as Associate Editor of the American Journal of Political Science and the Journal of Experimental Political Science. He is one of the founders of the European Political Science Association and the International Meeting on Behavioural Science (IMESBESS), and he is currently Vice President of the Midwest Political Science Association. In 2015, Ray was selected as a member of the UK Cabinet Office Cross-Whitehall Trial Advice Panel to offer Whitehall departments technical support in designing and implementing controlled experiments to assess policy effectiveness. He was recently nominated to the Evidence in Governance and Politics network.

Ray’s research focuses on responsibility attribution, incorporating elements of theory, experiments and analysis of public opinion. In 2008 he published an award-winning book, The Economic Vote, which demonstrates that citizens hold political parties accountable for economic outcomes. His experiments have identified the information shortcuts that individuals deploy for responsibility attribution. More recently, he has conducted experimental research into cheating, exploring its implications for tax compliance, corruption and economic performance.

Cheating and lying is more likely to be observed amongst successful, high ability, individuals in the population.  Ray makes this claim based on findings from over 40 experiments he has been conducting in labs, labs-in-the-field and online experiments in the U.K., the U.S., Chile, and Russia.  The on-going project aims to understand who cheats and in what circumstances.  Results from these experiments are being used to design policies aimed at managing dishonest behaviour in the public and private sectors. These experiments are being conducted with colleagues at CESS Santiago (Laroze and Klinowski), University of Maastricht (Jiao) and the Moscow Higher School of Economics (Zakharov).  There are currently three working papers reporting initial results from these experiments.

Another “cheating” challenge concerns the growing prevalence of falsified information, or “alternative facts,’’ that the average individuals must now navigate when they consume information from various sources.  Ray has helped UK financial regulatory authorities, including the FCA and the FSCS, identify strategies for improving how average individuals consume financial information.   With funding from the Fell Fund, Ray along with colleagues from Nuffield CESS (Ehret) and CESS Santiago (Laroze) are conducting online experiments along with large scale social media experiments (on Reddit in particular) designed to help us identify (and understand the underlying mechanism) 1) falsified information that resonate most strongly with the population; 2) optimal strategies for identifying falsified information; 3) information frames that generally resonate most positively and persuasively with the general population.  Our initial focus is particularly on the financial realm but ultimately we expect to explore similar themes in other areas such as politics.

Policy decisions in both the public and private spheres often result from collective deliberation and choice.   Over the past decade Ray has published extensively on this theme – identifying the specific heuristics that individuals (voters, shareholders, investors, etc.) deploy in order to hold individual decision makers responsible for their choices.   His most recent work builds on large numbers of public opinion surveys but also on experiments conducted in the lab and online.   His findings suggest that scholars have exaggerated the importance of pivotality in explaining collective decision-making.  Proposal, or agenda setting, power represents a more important responsibility attribution heuristic when individuals observe outcomes resulting from a collective decision making body.  The most recent work has generated four working papers with colleagues from University of Barcelona (Falco-Gimeno), NYU (Landa), Science Po (Le Bihan) and Nuffield CESS (Ehret).

The preeminent challenge facing contemporary experimental social science is robustness.  An increasing number of studies published in leading scientific journals document the fragility of results – results that cannot be replicated.  Nuffield CESS and its centers located throughout the world are dedicated to address this challenge.  In addition Ray is working with colleagues at CESS Santiago (Laroze), Duke University (Beramendi) and Vienna University of Economics (Plumper) to 1) identify the sources for this fragility of results; 2) recommend design strategies that improve the robustness of estimated treatment effects; and 3) develop estimation strategies that both highlight these robustness issues or/and help to address them.  There is currently one working paper associated with this project.

Recent publications include:

(with M. Belot and L. Miller), “A Comprehensive Comparison of Students and Non-students in Classic Experimental Games”, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (2015), 113: 26-33.

(with W. Przepiorka and R. Stevenson), “Responsibility Attribution for Collective Decision Makers”, American Journal of Political Science (2015), 59(2): 372-89.

(with S. Iyengar et al.), “Do Attitudes About Immigration Predict Willingness to Admit Individual Immigrants? A Cross-National Test of the Person-Positivity Bias”, Public Opinion Quarterly (2013). 77(3): 641-65.

(with R. Stevenson), “Voter Perceptions of Agenda Power and Attribution of Responsibility for Economic Performance”, Electoral Studies (2013), 32:512-16.

(with R. Stevenson), “The Meaning and Use of Subjective Perceptions in Models of Economic Voting”, Electoral Studies (2013), 32(2): 305-20.

(with I. Sagarzazu), “Election Campaigns, Public Opinion and the Financial Crisis of 2008-2010 in the U.K. and Germany” in N. Bermeo and L.M. Bartels, eds., Mass Politics in Tough Times: Opinion, Votes and Protest in the Great Recession, Russell Sage Foundation and Oxford University Press (2013).

Ray’s teaching focuses on experimental methods and recently he has taught courses on this topic in the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations, in the CESS centres in Oxford and Santiago, at the University of Santiago Business School, the University of Toronto Munk School, Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona, and at the Oxford/Essex Summer School.  He also conducts workshops on evidence-based experimental methods for policy making in both the private and governmental sector. Recent workshops have been conducted for the UK Department of Business Innovation and Skills and the Chilean Ministry of Education.