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"The Way in which an Experiment is Conducted is Unbelievably Important": On the Experimentation Practices of Economists and Psychologists

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  • Andreas Ortmann

Abstract

To discuss experimental results without discussing how they came about makes sense when the results are robust to the way experiments are conducted. Experimental results, however, are – arguably more often than not – sensitive to numerous design and implementation characteristics such as the use of financial incentives, deception, and the way information is presented. To the extent that economists and psychologists have different experimental practices, this claim is of obvious practical and interpretative relevance. In light of the empirical results summarized below, it seems warranted to say that it does not make sense to report experimental results without reporting the design and implementation choices that were made.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2887.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2887

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Keywords: Duhem-Quine problem; experimental design; experimental implementation; financial incentives; deception;

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References

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  1. Smith, Vernon L, 1982. "Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 923-55, December.
  2. Andreas Ortmann & Ralph Hertwig, 2001. "The Costs of Deception: Evidence From Psychology," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp191, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  3. John A. List, 2005. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," NBER Working Papers 11616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. McKelvey, Richard D & Palfrey, Thomas R, 1992. "An Experimental Study of the Centipede Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 803-36, July.
  5. Ondrej Rydval & Andreas Ortmann, 2004. "How financial incentives and cognitive abilities affect task performance in laboratory settings: An illustration," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp221, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  6. Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
  7. Ondřej Rydval & Andreas Ortmann & Sasha Prokosheva & Ralph Hertwig, 2009. "How certain is the uncertainty effect?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 473-487, December.
  8. Philip J. Reny, 1992. "Rationality in Extensive-Form Games," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 103-118, Fall.
  9. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutstr�m, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
  10. Smith, Vernon L & Walker, James M, 1993. "Monetary Rewards and Decision Cost in Experimental Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 245-61, April.
  11. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  12. Uri Gneezy & John A List & George Wu, 2006. "The Uncertainty Effect: When a Risky Prospect Is Valued Less Than Its Worst Possible Outcome," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1283-1309, November.
  13. Smith, Vernon L, 1991. "Rational Choice: The Contrast between Economics and Psychology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 877-97, August.
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  15. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  16. repec:kap:expeco:v:5:y:2002:i:2:p:91-110 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Colin F. Camerer & Teck-Hua Ho & Juin-Kuan Chong, 2004. "A Cognitive Hierarchy Model of Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 861-898, August.
  18. Smith, Vernon L, 1976. "Experimental Economics: Induced Value Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 274-79, May.
  19. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
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