I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Leiden University (2018-now). In 2016, I obtained my PhD in Economics from Radboud University - under the supervision of Prof. Utz Weitzel and Prof. Alan Sanfey - with my thesis titled ‘Behavioral and neuroscientific essays on decision-making under uncertainty’. Following my PhD, I did a postdoctoral study (2016-2018) at the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder.

My academic work focuses on individual decision-making and policy evaluation of education, personal finance and health. You can read more about the specifics of my research here.

I am passionate about my research, but also very passionate about life in general. I love the outdoors and was very fortunate to have lived three wonderful years amidst the Rocky Mountains. Although I consider myself very lucky to live in the Netherlands, I like to complain about the flatness of our country from time to time, sigh… When possible, I escape the Flat Lands and hop in the car to the Alps with my road bike. Thankfully, my husband is even more obsessed with endurance sports than I am. Last, but definitely not least, I have two little sons, whom I chase around all day every day.


My research focuses on individuals’ decision-making under uncertainty and I strive to apply my findings to real-world behavioral phenomena, thereby aiming to contribute to policy making and evaluation. For instance, I have related students’ aversion to risk and ambiguity to their decision to take out study loans. In another study, I introduced a new risk task, the Balloon Economic Risk Protocol (BERP), and described its relationship to students’ risky health choices like substance use and smoking.

In my recent work I investigate the interaction of non-cognitive abilities - otherwise known as socio-emotional skills - and economic preferences such as risk preferences. I believe that taking both psychological and economic variables into account gives us a better understanding of the full spectrum of human behavior and allows us to better design behavioral interventions.

My research approach is highly interdisciplinary as I combine theories and experimental methodologies stemming from economics, psychology and neuroscience. I make use of a variety of experimental methods, ranging from laboratory, field and neuroimaging experiments, and have used both adults and adolescents as experimental participants in the past. Altogether, my research portfolio has developed through fruitful collaborations with fellow economists, neuroscientists, psychologists and computer scientists. In my current role at Leiden University, I utilize and embed my experimental background in the department’s strong focus on social policy themes like education, personal finance and health.

I enjoy sharing my research at conferences and with governmental agencies who wish to make use of my expertise. A few of my highlights were my presentation at the prestigious Barcelona Summer Forum in 2019, a recent contribution at the 2020 plenary meeting of the Social Sciences Council of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences organized my Prof. Esther-Mirjam Sent and my selection into the 2020 cohort of the Economic Science Association mentoring program.

My Full CV can be downloaded here (last updated: Oct 26 2020).


International peer-reviewed articles:
- Fairley, K., A.G. Sanfey. Risk, ambiguity and prudence during adolescence, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Forthcoming. [Link]
- Rezaeinia, P., K. Fairley, F. Meyer, R. McKell Carter, 2020. Identifying Brain Network Topology Changes in Task Processes and Psychiatric Disorders, Network Neuroscience, 4(1), pp. 257-273. [Link]
- Fairley, K., A.G. Sanfey, J. Vyrastekova, U.G. Weitzel, 2019. Subjective beliefs about trust and reciprocity activate an expected rewards signal in the ventral striatum, Frontiers in Neuroscience, 13, Article 660. [Link]
- Fairley, K., J.M. Parelman, M. Jones, R. McKell Carter, 2019. Risky health choices and the Balloon Economic Risk Protocol. Journal of Economic Psychology 73, pp. 15-33. [Link]
- Fairley, K., U.G. Weitzel, 2017. Ambiguity and risk measures and students’ real-life borrowing decisions. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics 67, pp. 85-98. [Link]
- Fairley, K., A.G. Sanfey, J. Vyrastekova, U.G. Weitzel, 2016. Trust and risk revisited. Journal of Economic Psychology 57, pp. 74-85. [Link]

Dutch policy articles:
- Fairley, K., 2020. Huidige herinrichting vmbo zorgt niet voor daling voortijdig schoolverlating. Me Judice. [Link]
- Fairley, K., 2020. Meten van risicovoorkeuren is wel zinvol met risicotaken. Economisch Statistische Berichten 105 (4787), pp. 343-345. [Link]
- Fairley, K., 2020. Onderschatting en volop hamsteren: menselijk gedrag tijdens de corona-uitbraak. Economisch Statistische Berichten. [Link]
- Fairley, K., M. Stallen, E-M Sent, 2013. De kracht van sociale normen. Economisch Statistische Berichten 98 (4672S), pp. 27-31. [Link]


You can find an overview of my Dutch media appearances here:

- Interview in the Funda Barometer. Read here.
- Live cast: de onzekere toekomst van onze woningmarkt. Hosted by Pakhuis de Zwijger. Watch here.
- Video-call: Economen in tijden van Corona. Hosted by ESB. Watch here.

Contact Me?

Email: k.fairley@law.leidenuniv.nl
Tel: +31 71 527 3885

Institute of Tax Law and Economics
Department of Economics
Leiden University
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Roomnumber B2.03
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden



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