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Virtual world experimentation: An exploratory study


  • Chesney, Thomas
  • Chuah, Swee-Hoon
  • Hoffmann, Robert


We explore the scientific potential of virtual worlds for experimental economics in terms of the subject pools and experimental platforms they present. Our results offer tentative, qualified support for virtual world experimentation. Overall, the behaviour of virtual subjects recruited, incentivised and observed within Second Life across a range of five standard experimental games was not found to differ significantly from established standard results. In addition, we identify certain methodological opportunities and challenges which confront virtual world experimenters.

Suggested Citation

  • Chesney, Thomas & Chuah, Swee-Hoon & Hoffmann, Robert, 2009. "Virtual world experimentation: An exploratory study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 618-635, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:72:y:2009:i:1:p:618-635

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    2. Greiner, Ben & Caravella, Mary & Roth, Alvin E., 2014. "Is avatar-to-avatar communication as effective as face-to-face communication? An Ultimatum Game experiment in First and Second Life," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 374-382.
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    4. Lübbe, Ingmar & Bolle, Friedel, 2011. "Who helps whom? Risk taking and solidarity in a virtual world experiment," Discussion Papers 310, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
    5. Edward Castronova, 2008. "A Test of the Law of Demand in a Virtual World: Exploring the Petri Dish Approach to Social Science," CESifo Working Paper Series 2355, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Jérôme Hergueux & Nicolas Jacquemet, 2015. "Social preferences in the online laboratory: a randomized experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(2), pages 251-283, June.
    7. Pikulina, Elena & Renneboog, Luc & Tobler, Philippe N., 2017. "Overconfidence and investment: An experimental approach," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 175-192.
    8. Fiedler, Marina & Haruvy, Ernan, 2009. "The lab versus the virtual lab and virtual field--An experimental investigation of trust games with communication," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 716-724, November.
    9. Michael Morrison & Matías Fontenla, 2013. "Price convergence in an online virtual world," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 1053-1064, June.
    10. Hans-Theo Normann & Till Requate & Israel Waichman, 2014. "Do short-term laboratory experiments provide valid descriptions of long-term economic interactions? A study of Cournot markets," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(3), pages 371-390, September.
    11. Arechar, Antonio A. & Gächter, Simon & Molleman, Lucas, 2017. "Conducting Interactive Experiments Online," IZA Discussion Papers 10517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Christoph Safferling & Aaron Lowen, 2011. "Economics in the Kingdom of Loathing: Analysis of Virtual Market Data," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2011-30, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    13. Pikulina, E.S. & Renneboog, L.D.R. & Tobler, P.N., 2014. "Overconfidence, Effort, and Investment (Revised version of CentER DP 2013-035)," Discussion Paper 2014-039, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    14. Carl Mildenberger, 2013. "The constitutional political economy of virtual worlds," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 239-264, September.
    15. Sousa, Yannick Ferreira De & Munro, Alistair, 2012. "Truck, barter and exchange versus the endowment effect: Virtual field experiments in an online game environment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 482-493.
    16. Andreas Nicklisch & Tobias Salz, 2008. "Reciprocity and status in a virtual field experiment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2008_37, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    17. repec:kap:expeco:v:21:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9527-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Croson, Rachel & Gächter, Simon, 2010. "The science of experimental economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 122-131, January.
    19. Stephen Atlas & Louis Putterman, 2010. "Trust among the Avatars: A Virtual World Experiment, with and without Textual and Visual Cues," Working Papers 2010-18, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    20. Francesco Massara & Fabio Ancarani & Michele Costabile & Francesco Ricotta, 2012. "Social Desirability in Virtual Communities," International Journal of Business Administration, International Journal of Business Administration, Sciedu Press, vol. 3(6), pages 93-100, November.
    21. Innocenti, Alessandro, 2017. "Virtual reality experiments in economics," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 71-77.
    22. Björn Frank, 2009. "Clean Evidence on Face-to-Face: Why Experimental Economics is of Interest to Regional Economists," MAGKS Papers on Economics 200904, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    23. Gürerk, Özgür & Bönsch, Andrea & Braun, Lucas & Grund, Christian & Harbring, Christine & Kittsteiner, Thomas & Staffeldt, Andreas, 2014. "Experimental Economics in Virtual Reality," MPRA Paper 62073, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 27 Jan 2015.
    24. Chuah, Swee-Hoon & Hoffmann, Robert & Larner, Jeremy, 2014. "Chinese values and negotiation behaviour: A bargaining experiment," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 1203-1211.
    25. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00748615 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Virtual worlds Experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C88 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Other Computer Software
    • C99 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Other
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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