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A test of the experimental method

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Author Info

  • Shaun P. Hargreaves Heap

    (University of East Anglia)

  • Arjan Verschoor

    (University of East Anglia)

  • Daniel John Zizzo

    (University of East Anglia)

Abstract

Do the insights into human behavior generated by laboratory experiments hold outside the lab? This is the crucial question of external validity that naturally troubles both experimentalists and their critics. We address this question by adopting Popper's injunction that hypotheses should be tested, not by seeking instances of confirmation, but through exposure to conditions where falsification is a serious possibility. We select a population where the non-experimental evidence points to behavior which is quite unlike what is typically found in the laboratory and we examine whether their experimental results track these untypical behaviors. In our case, they do.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. in its series Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) with number 09-17.

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Date of creation: 01 Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:uea:wcbess:09-17

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Postal: Norwich NR4 7TI
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Postal: Helen Chapman, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
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Related research

Keywords: external validity; experiments; trust; groups; discrimination;

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References

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  1. Guala,Francesco, 2005. "The Methodology of Experimental Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521853408, December.
  2. Jeffery Carpenter & Juan Camilo Cardenas, 2006. "Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from field labs in the developing world," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0616, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  3. Mayer, Adalbert & Puller, Steven L., 2008. "The old boy (and girl) network: Social network formation on university campuses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 329-347, February.
  4. 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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