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An experiment on experimental instructions

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  • M. Bigoni
  • D. Dragone

Abstract

In this paper we treat instructions as an experimental variable. Using a public good game, we study how the instructions' format affects the participants' understanding of the experiment, their speed of play and their experimental behavior. We show that longer instructions do not significantly improve the subjects' understanding of the experiment; on-screen instructions shorten average decision times with respect to on-paper instructions, and requiring forced inputs reduces waiting times, in particular for the slowest subjects. Consistent with cognitive load theory, we find that short, on-screen instructions which require forced inputs improve on subjects' comprehension and familiarity with the experimental task, and they contribute to reduce both decision and waiting times without affecting the overall pattern of contributions.

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Paper provided by Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna in its series Working Papers with number wp794.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:wp794

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  1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2009. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2620, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Oechssler, Jörg & Roider, Andreas & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2009. "Cognitive Abilities and Behavioral Biases," Working Papers 0465, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Chetan Dave & Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Christian Rojas, 2010. "Eliciting risk preferences: When is simple better?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 219-243, December.
  5. Ben Greiner, 2004. "The Online Recruitment System ORSEE 2.0 - A Guide for the Organization of Experiments in Economics," Working Paper Series in Economics 10, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
  6. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  7. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Götte, Lorenz & Rustichini, Aldo, 2008. "Cognitive Skills Explain Economic Preferences, Strategic Behavior, and Job Attachment," IZA Discussion Papers 3609, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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Cited by:
  1. Bigoni, M. & Dragone, D., 2012. "Effective and efficient experimental instructions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(2), pages 460-463.

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