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Implementing theoretical models in the laboratory, and what this can and cannot achieve

  • Stefania Sitzia
  • Robert Sugden

We investigate the methodology used in a significant genre of experimental economics, in which experiments are designed to test theoretical models by implementing them in the laboratory. Using two case studies, we argue that such an experiment is a test, not of what the model says about its target domain, but of generic theoretical components used in the model. The properties that make a model interesting as a putative explanation of phenomena in its target domain are not necessarily appropriate for such tests. We consider how this research strategy has been legitimised within the community of experimental economists.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/1350178X.2011.628101
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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

Volume (Year): 18 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 323-343

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:18:y:2011:i:4:p:323-343
DOI: 10.1080/1350178X.2011.628101
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  1. Mary Morgan, 2005. "Experiments versus models: New phenomena, inference and surprise," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 317-329.
  2. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
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