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Self-selection into laboratory experiments: pro-social motives versus monetary incentives

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  • Johannes Abeler

    ()

  • Daniele Nosenzo

    ()

Abstract

Laboratory experiments have become a wide-spread tool in economic research. Yet, there is still doubt about how well the results from lab experiments generalize to other settings. In this paper, we investigate the self-selection process of potential subjects into the subject pool. We alter the recruitment email sent to first-year students, either mentioning the monetary reward associated with participation in experiments; or appealing to the importance of helping research; or both. We find that the sign-up rate drops by two-thirds if we do not mention monetary rewards. Appealing to subjects’ willingness to help research has no effect on sign-up. We then invite the so-recruited subjects to the laboratory to measure their pro-social and approval motivations using incentivized experiments. We do not find any differences between the groups, suggesting that neither adding an appeal to help research, nor mentioning monetary incentives affects the level of social preferences and approval seeking of experimental subjects. Copyright Economic Science Association 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo, 2015. "Self-selection into laboratory experiments: pro-social motives versus monetary incentives," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(2), pages 195-214, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:18:y:2015:i:2:p:195-214
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-014-9397-9
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    Cited by:

    1. John, Katrin & Thomsen, Stephan L., 2017. "Gender Differences in the Development of Other-Regarding Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 11044, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Galizzi, Matteo M. & Navarro-Martínez, Daniel, 2018. "On the external validity of social preference games: a systematic lab-field study," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84088, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Arechar, Antonio A. & Gächter, Simon & Molleman, Lucas, 2017. "Conducting Interactive Experiments Online," IZA Discussion Papers 10517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. 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.
    5. repec:kap:expeco:v:21:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9527-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Espín, Antonio M. & Garcia, Teresa & Kovářík, Jaromír, 2018. "Digit ratio (2D:4D) predicts pro-social behavior in economic games only for unsatisfied individuals," MPRA Paper 86166, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. repec:spr:amsrev:v:5:y:2015:i:1:d:10.1007_s13162-015-0066-8 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Methodology; Selection bias; Laboratory experiment; Field experiment; Other-regarding behavior; Social preferences; Social approval; Experimenter demand; C90; D03;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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