Shachar Kariv, UC Berkeley

Character and Candidates: A View from Decision Theory


Campaigns for political office often center on the “character” of the candidates. The role of character in Presidential campaigns especially has been the subject of much scholarly and popular debate. Moral issues aside, there is one aspect of a candidate's character that voters clearly should care about: the candidate's attitude toward risk. If there is a linkage between the candidate's attitude toward risk in the private domain and the candidate's attitude toward risk in the public domain, and this link can be deduced from what voters can observe, then (this aspect of) the candidate's character provides important information about (future) policymaking decisions. This paper formalizes this issue and identifies a link between attitude toward private risk and attitude toward public risk. The strength of the link depends on the amount the voter observes/infers about the candidate's preference. In a finite setting (but not in a continuous setting), it also depends on the degree of rationality the voter ascribes to the candidate.

Shachar Kariv is the Benjamin N. Ward Professor of Economics and Department Chair, and former Faculty Director of Experimental Social Science Laboratory (Xlab). His research in experimental and behavioral economics provides novel tools for understanding individual preferences and attitudes towards risk and time, which inform nearly all aspects of decision-making. His academic experience includes visiting professorship positions at Stanford University, Princeton University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, the European University Institute, the Norwegian School of Economics, among others. Among his awards, Shachar was awarded a Sloan Fellowship and received special recognition for his distinguished excellence in teaching from UC Berkeley Division of Social Sciences and the Haas School of Business.