Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts/Simone Golob
Jona Linde inspired by Frans van Winden
He is very open and despite his success, he is never arrogant. He gives researchers the space to follow their passion. When decisions need to be taken, he wants to hear everyone’s opinions first. So, he is a friendly man. But if the interests of the research institute that he helped set up, are at stake, professor Frans van Winden can be fierce and put up a fight.
“It is of course this fighting spirit that brought about CREED [the Amsterdam Centre for Research in Experimental Economics and political Decision making]. The first centre for experimental economic research in the Netherlands,” say Dr. Jona Linde, who works at the School of Business and Economics. “It is a kind of laboratory, without the usual instruments of a medical lab, but full of computers and test subjects, mostly students. We test whether our predictions about how decisions are taken, are correct. For example, how do people deal with risk? Would they rather choose a lottery in which large amounts of money can be won, or the lottery in which there is almost always a prize, even though the amount of money is much lower?”
He became acquainted with Van Winden, who is both nationally and internationally renowned, during his study of Economics at the University of Amsterdam. “He was my teacher in second or third year. He explained things very well, and that was noticed.” Chuckling: “I hope he noticed me at the time too. Later on, I met him again during my Ph.D. research at CREED. He was the director - has recently retired, at the age of seventy. But he still works. Frans has a real interest in the subject that he has studied for many years: the importance of emotion and human relations when making decisions. It is an important subject, but at the same time difficult to research. Emotions are broad, not easily measurable. The influence of relations is also difficult to determine. He is not someone for quick successes or easy scores. Fortunately, because that is not possible with his subject.” An extraordinary thing, Linde emphasises, is that Van Winden remained open to new research methods throughout the years. “Just before his retirement, he introduced neuroeconomics: can we trace any of those emotions in the brain?”
Linde hopes that he too will maintain that open attitude - “not dogmatically” – when it comes to new methods. “I also try to choose my subject from an intrinsic motivation, even though I focus less strongly on one subject. For example, I investigate whether someone takes more risk if he is relatively worse off than another. The answer? They actually take less risk.”