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Incentives, search engines, and the elicitation of subjective beliefs: evidence from representative online survey experiments

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  • Elisabeth Grewenig
  • Philipp Lergetporer
  • Katharina Werner
  • Ludger Woessmann

Abstract

A large literature studies subjective beliefs about economic facts using unincentivized survey questions. We devise randomized experiments in a representative online survey to investigate whether incentivizing belief accuracy affects stated beliefs about average earnings by professional degree and average public school spending. Incentive provision does not impact earnings beliefs, but improves school-spending beliefs. Response patterns suggest that the latter effect likely reflects increased online-search activity. Consistently, an experiment that just encourages search-engine usage produces very similar results. Another experiment provides no evidence of experimenter-demand effects. Overall, results suggest that incentive provision does not reduce bias in our survey-based belief measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Elisabeth Grewenig & Philipp Lergetporer & Katharina Werner & Ludger Woessmann, 2019. "Incentives, search engines, and the elicitation of subjective beliefs: evidence from representative online survey experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 7556, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7556
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    Cited by:

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    2. Katharina Dowling & Daniel Guhl & Daniel Klapper & Martin Spann & Lucas Stich & Narine Yegoryan, 2020. "Behavioral biases in marketing," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 449-477, May.
    3. Dietmar Fehr & Johanna Mollerstrom & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2022. "Your Place in the World: Relative Income and Global Inequality," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 232-268, November.
    4. Freundl Vera & Kugler Franziska & Wedel Katharina & Werner Katharina & Woessmann Ludger & Grewenig Elisabeth & Lergetporer Philipp & Schüler Ruth & Wirth Olivia, 2023. "The ifo Education Survey 2014–2021: A New Dataset on Public Preferences for Education Policy in Germany," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 243(6), pages 699-710, December.
    5. Starkov, Egor, 2023. "Only time will tell: Credible dynamic signaling," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).
    6. Ingar Haaland & Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart, 2023. "Designing Information Provision Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 61(1), pages 3-40, March.
    7. Brad R. Taylor, 2020. "The psychological foundations of rational ignorance: biased heuristics and decision costs," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 70-88, March.
    8. Juerg Schweri, 2021. "Predicting polytomous career choices in healthcare using probabilistic expectations data," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(3), pages 544-563, March.
    9. Lergetporer, Philipp & Woessmann, Ludger, 2023. "Earnings information and public preferences for university tuition: Evidence from representative experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 226(C).
    10. Burdea, Valeria & Woon, Jonathan, 2022. "Online belief elicitation methods," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
    11. Patrick Bareinz & Fabian Koenings, 2021. "Framing of Economic News and Policy Support During a Pandemic: Evidence from an Information Experiment," Jena Economics Research Papers 2021-004, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    beliefs; incentives; online search; survey experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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