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Persuasion Bias in Science: Can Economics Help?

Author

Listed:
  • Alfredo Di Tillio
  • Marco Ottaviani
  • Peter Norman Sørensen

Abstract

We investigate the impact of conflicts of interests on randomised controlled trials in a game‐theoretic framework. A researcher seeks to persuade an evaluator that the causal effect of a treatment outweighs its cost, to justify acceptance. The researcher can use private information to manipulate the experiment in three alternative ways: (i) sampling subjects based on their treatment effect, (ii) assigning subjects to treatment based on their baseline outcome, or (iii) selectively reporting experimental outcomes. The resulting biases have different welfare implications: for sufficiently high acceptance cost, in our binary illustration the evaluator loses in cases (i) and (iii) but benefits in case (ii).

Suggested Citation

  • Alfredo Di Tillio & Marco Ottaviani & Peter Norman Sørensen, 2017. "Persuasion Bias in Science: Can Economics Help?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(605), pages 266-304, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:605:p:f266-f304
    DOI: 10.1111/ecoj.12515
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dahm, Matthias & González, Paula & Porteiro, Nicolás, 2018. "The enforcement of mandatory disclosure rules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 21-32.
    2. Eliaz, Kfir & Spiegler, Ran & Weiss, Yair, 2019. "Cheating with (recursive) models," CEPR Discussion Papers 14100, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Michel Abramowicz & Ariane Szafarz, 2019. "Ethics of Randomized Controlled Trials: Should Economists Care about Equipoise?," Working Papers CEB 19-017, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. Herresthal, C., 2017. "Hidden Testing and Selective Disclosure of Evidence," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1712, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    5. Jeremy Bertomeu & Davide Cianciaruso, 2018. "Verifiable disclosure," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 65(4), pages 1011-1044, June.
    6. So, Tony, 2020. "Classroom experiments as a replication device," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 86(C).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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