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An experiment on experimental instructions

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Author Info

  • Maria Bigoni

    ()
    (Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Universita di Bologna)

  • Davide Dragone

    ()
    (Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche, Universita di Bologna and Max Plank Institute of Economics, Jena)

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2011-049.

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Date of creation: 03 Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2011-049

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Keywords: Cognitive load theory; Comprehension; Distraction; Experimental instructions;

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References

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  1. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6398, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Oechssler, Jörg & Roider, Andreas & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2008. "Cognitive Abilities and Behavioral Biases," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 08-05, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  5. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
  6. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  7. 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.
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Citations

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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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