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Self-Selection into Economics Experiments Is Driven by Monetary Rewards

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  • Abeler, Johannes

    ()
    (University of Oxford)

  • Nosenzo, Daniele

    ()
    (University of Nottingham)

Abstract

Laboratory experiments have become a wide-spread tool in economic research. Yet, there is still doubt about how well the results from lab experiments generalize to other settings. In this paper, we investigate the self-selection process of potential subjects into the subject pool. We alter the recruitment email sent to first-year students, either mentioning the monetary reward associated with participation in experiments; or appealing to the importance of helping research; or both. We find that the sign-up rate drops by two-thirds if we do not mention monetary rewards. Appealing to subjects' willingness to help research has no effect on sign-up. We then invite the so-recruited subjects to the laboratory to measure a range of preferences in incentivized experiments. We do not find any differences between the three groups. Our results show that student subjects participate in experiments foremost to earn money, and that it is therefore unlikely that this selection leads to an over-estimation of social preferences in the student population.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7374.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7374

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Keywords: methodology; selection bias; laboratory experiment; field experiment; other-regarding behavior; social preferences; social approval; experimenter demand;

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References

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Are there biases from monetary rewards in experimental economics?
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-08-28 14:58:00
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Cited by:
  1. Pelligra, Vittorio & Stanca, Luca, 2013. "To give or not to give? Equity, efficiency and altruistic behavior in an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-9.

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