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Implementing theoretical models in the laboratory, and what this can and cannot achieve

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  • Stefania Sitzia

    (School of Economics and CBESS, University of East Anglia)

  • Robert Sugden

    (School of Economics and CBESS, University of East Anglia)

Abstract

We investigate the methodology used in a significant genre of experimental economics, in which experiments are designed to test theoretical models by implementing them in the laboratory. Using two case studies, we argue that such an experiment is a test, not of what the model says about its target domain, but of generic theoretical components used in the model. The properties that make a model interesting as a putative explanation of phenomena in its target domain are not necessarily appropriate for such tests. We consider how this research strategy has been legitimised within the community of experimental economists.

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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 11-08.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:uea:wcbess:11-08

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Keywords: Experiments; models; methodology;

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References

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  1. Steven Salop & Joseph Stiglitz, 1977. "Bargains and ripoffs: a model of monopolistically competitive price dispersion," Special Studies Papers 94, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Nicholas Bardsley, 2005. "Experimental economics and the artificiality of alteration," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 239-251.
  3. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
  4. Varian, Hal R, 1980. "A Model of Sales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 651-59, September.
  5. Guala,Francesco, 2005. "The Methodology of Experimental Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521618618, April.
  6. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521415019, April.
  7. Plott, Charles R, 1982. "Industrial Organization Theory and Experimental Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 1485-1527, December.
  8. Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521425230, April.
  9. Croson, Rachel & G├Ąchter, Simon, 2010. "The science of experimental economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 122-131, January.
  10. Mary Morgan, 2005. "Experiments versus models: New phenomena, inference and surprise," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 317-329.
  11. Anderson, Lisa R & Holt, Charles A, 1997. "Information Cascades in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 847-62, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Daniel John Zizzo, 2012. "Inducing natural group identity: A RDP analysis," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 12-01, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  2. David Hugh-Jones & David Reinstein, 2014. "Exclude the Bad Actors or Learn About The Group," Economics Discussion Papers 750, University of Essex, Department of Economics.

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