In the broadest manner, Oben Bayrak defines his research areas as behavioral and experimental economics, and in his thesis, he develops an alternative theory for decision making under risk which is called Preference Cloud Theory: it incorporates the people’s imprecision in their preferences. His defense will take place on the 13th of May.

Read Obens thesis: Preference cloud theory

Oben nailingUnderstanding how individuals behave under uncertainty is one of the oldest question which dates back to the 17th century to the works of Pascal and Fermat who proposed the expected value concept. This concept is defined as the weighted sum of the monetary outcomes and the weights are the associated probabilities with those outcomes. The concept evolved to well-known Expected Utility Theory, which begun to be challenged in especially 20th century with the experimental evidence. Since then many alternative theories proposed such as Prospect Theory and Rank Dependent Utility Theory but none of them can explain the observed imprecision in individual’s preferences. He continues explaining the importance of the decision theory in economics by stating that from health economics to game theory decision theories and especially decision under risk plays a fundamental role in analyzing the real life problems. For example in health economics and finance it is important to understand how individuals assess the risks about the prospects that they face and what kind of policy or market designs can be effective highly depends on the assumptions about the human behavior. Obens work develops a new decision theory for risk which has plausible assumptions, brings a new behavioral foundation and provides descriptive validity of the decision making under risk. He is working with Professor John D. Hey who is a very prominent figure and a great intellectual leader in the field, currently working in the University of York, UK.

Oben aims to stay in academia and he describes his PhD experience with the following sentences: “Social life changes, and PhD is a kind of job that you cannot leave in the office, your work, ideas and, models continues running in your mind even though it is weekend or off-work hours. It is exhausting but if you like this kind of work then, you would be less consumed. I have also become more patient, the reason is that within academics, the feedbacks such as being published, getting cited etc. takes time, you have to work on an idea for two years and you get the reward or any kind of feedback years after that, unlike the other jobs for which the reaction and the feedback is rapid.”

He thinks that people at CERE are very kind, helpful and most importantly, they listen to you and it is a mutual respect which defines the culture of CERE. The most prominent thing about the city of Umeå for him is the Northern lights, you see them frequently and without effort. For the people who are indecisive about going for a PhD or not he suggests them to assess their personality, before going for PhD: a researcher is a kind of person who has questions, trying to understand the underlying mechanisms of the events, willing to understand how the world works. He thinks the key thing is to have a set of prior questions and read more related to those, in time the better research questions will form and evolve. Overall, asking questions, reading, being organized, participating in discussion and conferences are the key things.

Read more about Obens work: Learn more about the, in September most downloaded CERE paper

Read more about our PhD:s upcoming dissertations:

What is the value of marine environmental improvements? – Katarina Östberg


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