Max R. P. Grossmann

Max R. P. Grossmann


Edward Moran's 'Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World' (1886): The painting captures the festive unveiling of the Statue of Liberty, with the statue centered against a cloudy sky, surrounded by smoke from salutes and a vivid flotilla of flag-adorned boats carrying onlookers.

Research areas

I use experiments and surveys to study the following areas:

  1. Paternalism, economics of freedom
  2. Political economy, public choice
  3. Behavioral economics (individual decision-making)

My primary JEL Classification is D01, D04, D63, D78, D90, H11.

Publications in peer-reviewed journals

Find me on Google Scholar, ORCID and Semantic Scholar.

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z-Tree unleashed: A novel client-integrating architecture for conducting z-Tree experiments over the Internet

with Duch, M. L. & Lauer, T. Journal of Behavioral and Economic Finance, 2020. Published version

▸ Abstract

We present z-Tree unleashed, a novel approach and set of scripts to aid the implementation of computerized behavioral experiments outside the laboratory. z-Tree unleashed enables subjects to join the experiment using a web portal that requires no software apart from a web browser. Experimenters are likewise enabled to administer their experiments from anywhere in the world. Except for z-Tree itself, z-Tree unleashed is entirely based on free and open-source software. In this paper we give a high-level overview of z-Tree unleashed’s features and benefits and its design. We also show how to set up the server and demonstrate the steps required for conducting an entire experiment. We subsequently explain how to leverage the security and routing features of a virtual private network with z-Tree unleashed, enabling servers to securely run behind routers.

Selected work-in-progress

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Knowledge and Freedom: Experimental Evidence on Asymmetric Paternalism

Working paper · New version coming soon!

▸ Abstract

We study the relationship between information and paternalism. When is autonomy granted to an individual that is less or better informed, and if no autonomy is granted, what form will intervention take? We introduce the Estimation Game, a novel experimental design that varies the amount of ambiguity inherent in a binary lottery. Our analysis is concerned with the behavior of policymakers (“Choice Architects”). We conduct experiments of the Estimation Game with a Choice Architect to examine the extent to which Chooser knowledge matters in terms of restrictions on the Chooser's freedom of choice. More information leads to fewer interventions on the extensive margin. However, which option is imposed is a matter of personal Choice Architect preference, not a counterfactual assessment of the other's choice. A followup experiment replicates these results, highlighting that Choice Architects rely on their own preference when choosing the intensive margin. However, when Choice Architects are informed about the Chooser’s hypothetical full-information choice, this information is used to determine what to impose. Moreover, Choice Architects disproportionately want the Chooser to decide informedly, even when Choice Architects are able to exploit the Chooser's ignorance.

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Paternalism and Deliberation: An Experiment on Making Formal Rules

Data collection completed · Preregistration · Working paper coming soon!

▸ Abstract

The importance of deliberation and time to consider one's decision have been emphasized in fields ranging from healthcare to firearms regulation. However, little is known about waiting periods' political economy and their effects on other policy features. We examine these issues using a survey experiment. First, we investigate whether mandatory waiting periods lead to increased respect for others' decisions. We leverage an experimental design in which "Choice Architects" can make rules for future subjects to investigate the effect of deliberation on paternalism. Here, deliberation is a given. Do Choice Architects show increased respect for more considered decisions? Second, we consider Choice Architects’ endogenous choice of waiting periods. Simply put, does the possibility of giving someone else additional “time to think” reduce the willingness to impose hard-nosed restrictions? This project aims to elucidate determinants of public policy given non-traditional measures such as mandatory waiting periods.

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Paternalism in Data Sharing

with Ockenfels, A.

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Integrating Machine Behavior into Human Subject Experiments

with Engel, C. & Ockenfels, A. · revise & resubmit

Working paper · GitHub

▸ Abstract

Large Language Models (LLMs) have the potential to profoundly transform and enrich experimental economic research. We propose a new software framework, "alter_ego", which makes it easy to design experiments between LLMs and to integrate LLMs into oTree-based web experiments with human subjects. Our toolkit is freely available at To illustrate, we run simple differently framed prisoner's dilemmas with interacting machines as well as with human-machine interaction.

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Making Rules

Working paper coming soon!

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The Role of Knowledge in Public Support: The Case of the German Heating Law

with Dertwinkel-Kalt, M.

▸ Abstract

When policies are unpopular, it is often claimed that this is due to poor communication and a lack of the transmission of facts in the public debates of these policies. We investigate this claim at the hand of a recent controversial policy in Germany in Germany, the so-called Heating Law. We conduct a survey experiment in which we experimentally vary participants' factual knowledge of the Law. We find that knowledge plays no role for participants' attitudes and reaction to the Law. Instead, a pre-existing pro-environmental policy preference and socio-demographic factors are significantly predictive of attitudes and behaviors. These results suggest public support for climate policy is more strongly anchored in ideological beliefs and values than in understanding of policy details. We also find evidence for motivated reasoning and false consensus bias. Our findings have implications for public administration and research on misinformation: communicating facts may be insufficient to resolve policy disagreements.

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Incentivizing Lab Signups: Evidence from a Field-in-the-Lab Experiment

with Apffelstaedt, A.

Other publications

Reproducibility in Management Science

by Fišar, M., Greiner, B., Huber, C., Katok, E., Ozkes, A. and the Management Science Reproducibility Collaboration (consortium co-authorship). Management Science, 70(3):1343-1356. Published version

Stochastic volatility with mixed frequency data

Master’s thesis, University of Cologne. September 16, 2019.

▸ Abstract

This thesis focuses on two extensions to the stochastic volatility (SV) model: First, explanatory variables are introduced in the form of a low-frequency mixed-data sampling (MIDAS) term along with the daily autoregressive component of the SV model. Second, we consider a model in which an additional autoregressive term is introduced, but it evolves in a low-frequency manner compared to the daily term. Additional macro variables permit the identification of this supplementary term. Chapter 1 introduces the basic models and provides an overview of previous approaches. Chapter 2 presents the new models and discusses some of their properties. All SV models are estimated using the Kálmán filter; moreover, it is shown how volatility forecasts can be obtained. In chapter 3, we study the models using Monte Carlo simulations. In chapter 4, we apply the models to financial series. Finally, we summarize the results in chapter 5. Proofs, additional figures and tables, and the code of the reference implementation are provided.

Technological Transition and Price Discrimination

Bachelor’s thesis, University of Cologne. June 6, 2017. Download

Sophomore’s Dream: 1,000,000 digits

Computation (world record). 2017. Download (sig)

▸ Abstract

See here for further information. The previous world record computation (from 2013, also by me) can be downloaded here.