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“I wanted to be a jazz musician after graduation” – Antal Ertl’s PhD story

2024-02-13 20:55:00

Antal Ertl is a third-year doctoral student in economics. He studied in a Master programme at Corvinus University and graduated in 2019. Although he has not left the university campus, as he has been teaching continuously since 2018, he started his doctoral studies in 2021, after a few years' gap.

Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem

Antal came to Corvinus from one of the bachelor programmes of  the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. At Corvinus he obtained a Master degree in Economic Analysis. “I had a lot of subjects in management, but I was attracted to the economics side from the beginning,” he recalls of the early days of his higher education.  

His research field and PhD topic is behavioural and experimental economics, which in his dissertation takes on  more of an experimental aspect. “This consists of doing all kinds of experiments and analysing how people behave in different decision-making situations or how they react to particular situations,” Antal shared about his research. He explained that this is a border area where he conducts psychological research in an economic setting and with economic tools.  

Does losing really hurt more than it is good to win? 

In addition to laboratory experiments, he also involved students at the university in his research. One year, he studied the loss avoidance attitude characteristic of people within the context of a course offered at the institute. For the students in the experiment, the material for the macroeconomics assessment was the same, but their performance was evaluated using a different marking system. Some of the students started from the maximum mark, and could only lose points for wrong answers. The other students started from 0 points and scored points according to the traditional marking system. “We were curious whether this would affect the results. The academic literature and psychology tells us that when you lose 1000 forints, the pain is greater than the positive feeling when you win 1000 forints – this is the basic idea of loss avoidance”, Antal explains the background of the research. “The hypothesis has been proven, because those who lost points did better,” he continued, presenting his results.  

Prosperity and confidence in the economy 

In another of his studies, he looked at how social status – household income and education – influences perceptions about the future of the economy. From the questionnaire results, he found that the higher the socio-economic status, the more positive one is about the economy and the more confident one is about the future.  

Playful experiments 

With his lecturers, he is currently involved in analysing economics experiments in different secondary schools, using these experiments to measure young people’s economic preferences in a playful framework. Examples of such preferences are risk preference, trust or altruism. The results were compared with the results of the students’ competence assessments, with a focus on maths and reading comprehension skills. The research question was whether it is possible to predict whether a person will be better or worse at maths based exclusively on their economic preferences. The results suggest that there is a correlation between certain preference groups and the results of the competence assessment. 

Education and research  

Although he also enjoys teaching, he sees himself primarily as a researcher. “I really like it because you have to be curious, enthusiastic, thorough and critical,” he said, sharing his impressions of being a researcher. He is not only interested in his own research, he also likes to read the work of others. He is now Section Secretary of the Section of Behavioural Economics of the Students’ Scientific Association. As part of the doctoral programme, he also participates in research seminars and conferences where researchers provide feedback to each other on their work. He also considers the doctoral seminars of the doctoral school important. “We can help each other turn a good article into a very good article,” he said.  

According to Antal, one of the benefits of teaching is that it makes the material much easier to understand. “By having to know the material to a level where you can pass it on to someone else, you also have to master it much better. It has meant a lot to me in many subjects,” he says, summing up his experience. His courses included Microeconomics, Econometrics and Introduction to Economics. “If I am enthusiastic, the students are more likely to be enthusiastic,” Antal says. His conversations with students often inspire his research, and sometimes he draws new ideas from them.  


Written by: Fruzsina Máriássy 


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GEN.:2024.07.18. - 20:17:10