Lab and framed lab versus natural experiments: Evidence from a risky choice experiment
Some recent papers have studied data from TV game shows to examine the behaviour of individuals towards risk. It is generally agreed that data from these shows are useful in detecting individual risk aversion in the field, with both "real life" subjects and incentives. Field experiments also include some interesting reality features that could affect individuals' behaviour and possibly lead to different findings. This paper aims at investigating lab versus field evidence in risk taking attitudes, especially controlling for framing effects. To assess whether the behaviour of subjects in the field is consistent with that of experimental subjects, we designed an experiment to mimic (with experimental rewards and subjects) the rules of a well-known Italian TV game show, Affari Tuoi, in two different settings: a traditional lab setting, where the game was played individually (109 subjects) (Treatment 1); and a framed lab, in which the experiment was replicated in the Italian public television (RAI) studio where the show was actually recorded, with a smaller sample of undergraduate students (33) and in the presence of an audience (TreatmentÂ 2). Our comparison between the two different settings aims at establishing whether the presence of an audience, or of a situation that reproduces the stress that contestants must experience in the TV studio, can affect experimental subjects' choices. We did not find any significant evidence of framing effects: students behave in a similar way in the two lab settings, responding essentially to incentives. Comparing the risk attitudes shown by experimental subjects in the two lab treatments with those exhibited by the contestants in the field, we found that contestants in the TV show are generally more risk averse than students in the lab.
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