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Exploring whether behavior in context-free experiments is predictive of behavior in the field: Evidence from lab and field experiments in rural Sierra Leone

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  • Voors, Maarten
  • Turley, Ty
  • Kontoleon, Andreas
  • Bulte, Erwin
  • List, John A.

Abstract

We use a sample of subsistence farmers in Sierra Leone as respondents to compare behavior in a context-free experiment (a standard public goods game) and behavior in the field (a real development intervention). There is no meaningful correlation in behavior across contexts. This casts doubt on the prospect of using lab experiments as “predictors” of behavior in real life.

Suggested Citation

  • Voors, Maarten & Turley, Ty & Kontoleon, Andreas & Bulte, Erwin & List, John A., 2012. "Exploring whether behavior in context-free experiments is predictive of behavior in the field: Evidence from lab and field experiments in rural Sierra Leone," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(3), pages 308-311.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:114:y:2012:i:3:p:308-311
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2011.10.016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeffrey Carpenter & Erika Seki, 2011. "Do Social Preferences Increase Productivity? Field Experimental Evidence From Fishermen In Toyama Bay," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(2), pages 612-630, April.
    2. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital and Predict Financial Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1688-1699, December.
    3. Maarten Voors & Erwin Bulte & Andreas Kontoleon & John A. List & Ty Turley, 2011. "Using Artefactual Field Experiments to Learn about the Incentives for Sustainable Forest Use in Developing Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 329-333, May.
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    5. John A. List, 2006. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-37, February.
    6. Matthias Benz & Stephan Meier, 2008. "Do people behave in experiments as in the field?—evidence from donations," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(3), pages 268-281, September.
    7. Bouma, Jetske & Bulte, Erwin & van Soest, Daan, 2008. "Trust and cooperation: Social capital and community resource management," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 155-166, September.
    8. Laury, Susan K. & Taylor, Laura O., 2008. "Altruism spillovers: Are behaviors in context-free experiments predictive of altruism toward a naturally occurring public good," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 9-29, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lohse, Johannes & Goeschl, Timo & Diederich , Johannes, 2014. "Giving is a question of time: Response times and contributions to a real world public good," Working Papers 0566, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    2. Rawadee Jarungrattapong & Suparee Boonmanunt, 2016. "Altruism, Cooperation and Trust: Other-regarding Behavior and Collective Actions in Thailand," EEPSEA Research Report rr20160332, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA), revised Mar 2016.
    3. repec:eee:eecrev:v:97:y:2017:i:c:p:1-25 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Pia R. Pinger, 2017. "Thinking about Tomorrow? Predicting Experimental Choice Behavior and Life Outcomes from a Survey Measure of Present Bias," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 935, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Goeschl, Timo & Kettner, Sara Elisa & Lohse, Johannes & Schwieren, Christiane, 2015. "What do we learn from public good games about voluntary climate action? Evidence from an artefactual field experiment," Working Papers 0595, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    6. Fossen, Frank M. & Glocker, Daniela, 2017. "Stated and revealed heterogeneous risk preferences in educational choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 1-25.
    7. repec:ebl:ecbull:eb-17-00185 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:bla:jageco:v:68:y:2017:i:3:p:682-709 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Sandra Polania-Reyes, 2016. "Disentangling Social Capital: Lab-in-the-Field Evidence on Coordination, Networks, and Cooperation," Artefactual Field Experiments 00565, The Field Experiments Website.
    10. Vollan, Björn & Prediger, Sebastian & Frölich, Markus, 2013. "Co-managing common-pool resources: Do formal rules have to be adapted to traditional ecological norms?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 51-62.
    11. Pamela Jakiela & Owen Ozier, 2015. "The Impact of Violence on Individual Risk Preferences: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," HiCN Working Papers 204, Households in Conflict Network.
    12. Bluffstone,Randy & Dannenberg,Astrid & Martinsson,Peter & Jha,Prakash & Bista,Rjesh, 2015. "Cooperative behavior and common pool resources : experimental evidence from community forest user groups in Nepal," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7323, The World Bank.
    13. Stephen V. Burks & Daniele Nosenzo & Jon Anderson & Matthew Bombyk & Derek Ganzhorn & Lorenz Goette & Aldo Rustichini, 2015. "Lab Measures of Other-Regarding Preferences Can Predict Some Related on-the-Job Behavior: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment," Discussion Papers 2015-21, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    14. repec:now:jirere:101.00000084 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:eee:ecolec:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:32-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Handberg, Øyvind Nystad & Angelsen, Arild, 2015. "Experimental tests of tropical forest conservation measures," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 346-359.
    17. Jens Rommel & Sergio Villamayor-Tomas & Malte Müller & Christine Werthmann, 2015. "Game Participation and Preservation of the Commons: An Experimental Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(8), pages 1-15, July.
    18. Martin Fochmann & Arne Kleinstück, 2012. "Steueraversion - Sind wir wirklich bereit auf Einkommen zu verzichten, nur um Steuern zu sparen?," FEMM Working Papers 120024, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
    19. Handberg, Øyvind Nystad, 2016. "No sense of ownership in weak participation: a forest conservation experiment in Tanzania," Working Paper Series 05-2016, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, School of Economics and Business.
    20. Janssen, Marco A. & Bousquet, François & Cardenas, Juan-Camilo & Castillo, Daniel & Worrapimphong, Kobchai, 2013. "Breaking the elected rules in a field experiment on forestry resources," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 132-139.
    21. Brent, Daniel A. & Friesen, Lana & Gangadharan, Lata & Leibbrandt, Andreas, 2017. "Behavioral Insights from Field Experiments in Environmental Economics," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 10(2), pages 95-143, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Lab games; Field experiments; Community driven development; External validity; Pro-social preferences; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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