Dr Donna Harris

Profile details


Director of Studies in Political Economy


Donna Harris is the Director of Studies in Political Economy. She is a Behavioural and Experimental Economist who uses interdisciplinary methods that combine psychology, economics, and neuroscience to study individual and group behaviours with policy applications in developing countries. Donna holds a PhD and MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA in Economics from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. She has been awarded research grants from the British Academy and a joint Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), UK. She is also a consultant in the Climate Change and Disaster Risks team at Oxford Policy Management which is an international development consulting firm, working to help low- and middle-income countries achieve growth and reduce poverty and disadvantage through public policy reforms.

Research interests

Her current research examines how social identity and social interactions (through observing other’s choices and face-to-face communication) influence people’s decisions and behaviours in a wide range of contexts. These include resource allocation, charitable giving and social preferences, financial literacy, financial inclusion, and financial decisions (including remittances), in-group favouritism and out-group discrimination and whether social norm enforcement can be used to deter in-group favouritism. She is also interested in understanding behavioural foundations of corruption, particularly the role of social identities, personal connections, and how different policy and behavioural interventions can be used to combat corruption.

Research in progress

How identity, norms and narratives can be used to reduce corruption in Police Service in Ghana (with Paul Collier, Stefan Dercon, Oana Borcan, Danila Serra, and Henry Telli,)

Malawi Education Sector Improvement Project (MESIP) (with Salman Asim, the World Bank)

Gender Differences and Social Comparisons (with Michalis Drouvelis and Jan Jozwik, University of Birmingham).

Many Heads are Different from One: Neural Basis of Group vs. Individual Decisions (with Dean Mobbs, Columbia University)

Size matters: The impact of group size on in-group favouritism (with Benedikt Herrmann (the European Commission) and Andreas Kontoleon (University of Cambridge)


Journal articles/working papers

Social Transmission of Financial Decision Making Skills. A Case of the Blind Leading the Blind? (with B. Douglas Bernheim (Stanford), Sandro Ambuehl (Toronto), and Fulya Ersoy (Standford), NBER Working Paper No. 25034, September 2018, latest version submitted.

"Does It Pay to Bet on Your Favourite to Win? Evidence on Experienced Utility from the 2018 FIFA World Cup Experiment", with Lajos Kossuth, Nick Pawdthavee, and Nick Chater, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, vol. 171, March 2020, pp. 35-58.

“In-group Favouritism and Out-group Discrimination in Naturally Occurring Groups” (with Klaus Abbink, Monash University), PLOS ONE, September 4th, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221616

 “Extremists”: An Experimental Study of How Social Interactions Change Preferences (with Ian Crawford, University of Oxford), Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 153(2018), pp. 238-266. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2018.07.007.

“Is it a norm to favour your own group?” with B. Herrmann (European Commission), A. Kontoleon (Cambridge), J. Newton (Sydney), Experimental Economics, September 2015, vol. 18(3), pp. 419-521.

“Two's Company, Three's a Group: The impact of group identity and group size on in-group favouritism”, with B. Herrmann (Nottingham) and A. Kontoleon (Cambridge), Centre for Decision Research & Experimental Economics (CeDEx) Discussion Paper Series ISSN 1749-3293.

Book chapters

“Public Administration and Corruption: A comparative case study of Police Services in Ghana and Uganda”, in the Handbook of Global Research and Practice in Corruption, Adam Graycar (ed), Edward Elgar, forthcoming.

“Ethnoeconomics”, in International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Hilary Callan (ed), Wiley-Blackwell, June 2018. DOI: 10.1002/9781118924396.