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The Role of Emotional Regulation on Entrepreneurship Education: Evidence from Neurophysiological Lab-in-the-Field Experiments

September 13, 2018

DECRG Kuala Lumpur Seminar Series

  • Most evaluations of the impact of entrepreneurship education or training programs find that these programs positively impact educational and labor market outcomes but do not impact, or even negatively impact, self-reported measures of socio-emotional skills. These results beg the question of which mechanisms, cognitive or otherwise, lead to increases in education and labor market outcomes. We argue that programs designed to foster socio-emotional skills affect the subjects’ ability to regulate their emotions, or disposition to act, in ways that enable them to make more measured, rational decisions that lead to more productive outcomes. In order to test our hypothesis, we combined a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with neuro-physiological and survey data from lab-in-the-field measurements to study an entrepreneurship training program in Chile; this enabled us to study the impact of the program on the participants’ cognitive, creative, and socio-emotional skills. A key methodological contribution of this study was the use of electroencephalograms (EEGs) in the context of an RCT. These measurements led us to two key findings. First, the program had a positive and significant impact on educational outcomes —i.e., dropout rates— and, akin to the findings of other studies in the literature, no impact on self-reported measures of socio-emotional skills (e.g., grit and locus of control) and creativity. Our second, and more novel insight came from our finding that the program had a significant impact on its participants’ emotional regulation skills. In particular, we found that the program studied rendered its participants more “resilient’’, as measured by a decrease in arousal (a proxy of stress), valence (a proxy for withdrawal from or approachability to an event or stimuli), and emotional reactions to negative stimuli.

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  • Pablo Egaña del Sol

    Pablo Egaña del Sol is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Asia School of Business and an International Faculty Fellow at MIT Sloan. He conducts research on applied economics, with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. Most recently, he has been studying individual wellbeing and the production function of socio-emotional, entrepreneurial, creative and cognitive skills in educational and labor markets. For this research he uses randomized control trials as well as lab-in-the-field experiments combining behavioral economics and computer neuroscience. Egaña del Sol has consulted with governments, companies, NGOs, and multinational institutions in the design and evaluation of policies on sustainability of sovereign wealth funds, science and technology, pensions, energy, mining, economic development strategy and management (now it has been scaled up to @mapamericas), and structural reforms. His work on structural reforms has been published in The Oxford Handbook of Latin American Political Economy. He holds a Business Engineering degree and a M.Sc. in Economics from the University of Chile, and a M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development from Columbia University in New York City. Previously, he was a Junior Professor in Economics at University of Chile, Faculty Fellow at SIPA at Columbia University, researcher at the Cognition and Decision Lab at the Department of Economics at Columbia University, lead by Professors Mike Woodford, Mark Dean and Pietro Ortoleva, and Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT Media Lab, with Professor Rosalind Picard. He is currently an affiliate researcher at EGAP, COES, and the Global Labor Organization (GLO).


  • WHEN: Thursday, September 13, 2018; 12:30-2:00PM
  • WHERE: World Bank Malaysia Office, Level 3, Sasana Kijang, No. 2, Jalan Dato’ Onn
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, September 12, 2018