Hi! My name is Maria Betto.

I am an Economics PhD candidate at Northwestern University. My research interests are in Microeconomic Theory, including Choice and Decision Theory, Auctions, Information and Mechanism Design.


Northwestern University

PhD in Economics, Jun ’24 (expected)

Committee: Marciano Siniscalchi (co-chair), Alesssandro Pavan (co-chair) and Wojciezch Olzweski

Fields: Microeconomic Theory, Econometrics, Industrial Organization

MA in Economics, Jun ’18

Fundacao Getulio Vargas

MS in Business Economics, Jan ’17

Thesis: Dynamic Markets for Lemons

BA in Economic Sciences, Dec ’14

Best student of the ’14 graduating cohort (valedictorian)


Northwestern University

Teaching Assistant, Sep ’18 – present

Introduction to Microeconomics (ECON 202-0), Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON 310-1 and ECON 310-2), Game Theory (MMSS 311-1), Game Theory (PhD-level, ECON 410-3)

Fundacao Getulio Vargas

Teaching Assistant, August ’13 – Dec ’16

Microeconomics, Game Theory,
Econometrics, Probability and Statistics, Finance and Industrial Organization.


Job Market Paper

Perceptiveness and Choice

Not all choices are obvious. When they are not, a decision-maker’s perceptiveness determines how well she can resolve the complex trade-offs between alternatives and thus reach a decisive conclusion. This paper leverages the theory of fuzzy sets to introduce this notion to standard choice theory. In particular, fuzziness is used to provide a maximum level of perceptiveness, on a [0, 1] scale, with which one can say that an alternative is just as good as another — i.e. an agent has to be more perceptive than that to realize that this is not true. I develop an axiomatic characterization of rationality for fuzzy binary relations, which I then show is equivalent to both a Fuzzy Weak Axiom (FWARP) and a representation by a family of nested, interval-valued utilities. While a fully perceptive individual is rational in the classical sense, lower perceptiveness generates coarser preference rankings where only the starkest of comparisons can be properly and accurately perceived. I illustrate the model with applications to Game Theory, and provide a novel explanation for the status quo bias where the size of the bias naturally increases with task complexity.


Asymmetric All-Pay Auctions with Spillovers

with Matthew W. Thomas, Accepted at Theoretical Economics, 2023

When opposing parties compete for a prize, the sunk effort players exert during the conflict can affect the value of the winner’s reward. These spillovers can have substantial influence on the equilibrium behavior of participants in applications such as lobbying, warfare, labor tournaments, marketing, and R&D races. To understand this influence, we study a general class of asymmetric, two-player all-pay auctions where we allow for spillovers in each player’s reward. The link between participants’ efforts and rewards yields novel effects — in particular, players with higher costs and lower values than their opponent sometimes extract larger payoffs.

Works in Progress

Choice over Assessments

with Matthew W. Thomas

There are many settings where agents with differing types choose among assessments that attempt to measure these types. For example, students may take either the SAT or ACT. Bond issuers may choose between the three main rating agencies. Assessments that provide higher ratings are obviously preferable to all agents. Preferences over risk are less obvious. Intuitively, low types prefer less accurate assessments because they can benefit more from mistakes. High types prefer more accurate assessments because they benefit from an accurate description of their type. We propose a condition on the assessments that ensures agents will choose them in an assortative manner. If the assessments have only two scores, this condition implies Blackwell’s informativeness criterion. However, this does not hold with three or more scores. When the assessments give the same unconditional distribution of scores, our condition implies the concordance order. We extend the analysis to repeated testing and mechanism design. We show that a principal can use menus of garbled assessments to improve the informativeness of high scores.


Notes on All-Pay Auctions

Detailed notes on the equilibrium construction of the symmetric all-pay auction with complete information.

A Gentle Introduction to the Edgeworth Box and Pareto Efficiency

Slides with basic concepts and examples for working through Edgeworth Box-type problems.


Department of Economics
Northwestern University
2211 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60201
Phone: +1 847 491 8200