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On the independence of history: experience spill-overs between experiments


  • Astrid Matthey
  • Tobias Regner



A central understanding in experimental economics is that subjects’ decisions in the lab are independent of history. We test whether this assumption of between-experiment independence is indeed justified. We analyze experiments with an allocation decision (like a dictator or ultimatum game) and find that participation in previous experiments tends to increase the amount subjects allocate to themselves. Hence, independence between experiments cannot be presumed if subjects participate repeatedly. The finding has implications for the interpretation of previous allocation decision results and deserves attention when running future experiments. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Astrid Matthey & Tobias Regner, 2013. "On the independence of history: experience spill-overs between experiments," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(3), pages 403-419, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:theord:v:75:y:2013:i:3:p:403-419
    DOI: 10.1007/s11238-012-9346-z

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    Cited by:

    1. Anna Conte & M. Vittoria Levati & Natalia Montinari, 2014. "Experience in Public Goods Experiments," Jena Economic Research Papers 2014-010, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    2. Bracht, Jürgen & Regner, Tobias, 2013. "Moral emotions and partnership," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 313-326.
    3. Walkowitz, Gari, 2017. "On the Validity of Cost-Saving Methods in Dictator-Game Experiments: A Systematic Test," MPRA Paper 83309, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Chuang, Yating & Schechter, Laura, 2015. "Stability of experimental and survey measures of risk, time, and social preferences: A review and some new results," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 151-170.
    5. repec:spr:jesaex:v:3:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s40881-017-0036-z is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Xue, Lian & Sitzia, Stefania & Turocy, Theodore L., 2017. "Mathematics self-confidence and the “prepayment effect” in riskless choices," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 239-250.
    7. John Smith, 2012. "The endogenous nature of the measurement of social preferences," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 11(2), pages 235-256, December.
    8. Kathrin Dengler-Roscher & Natalia Montinari & Marian Panganiban & Matteo Ploner & Benedikt Werner, 2015. "On the Malleability of Fairness Ideals: Order Effects in Partial and Impartial Allocation Tasks," Jena Economic Research Papers 2015-006, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

    More about this item


    Experimental methods; Other-regarding behavior; Social preferences; Conditional cooperation; B41; C90; D03; D84;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations


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