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Who should be called to the lab? A comprehensive comparison of students and non-students in classic experimental games

  • Michèle Belot
  • Raymond Duch

    ()

    (Centre for Experimental Social Sciences, Nuffield College, University of Oxford)

  • Luis Miller

This study compares the behavior of students and non-students in a number of classic experimental games. We find that students are more likely to behave as homo-economicus agents than non-students in games involving other-regarding preferences (Dictator Game, Trust Game and Public Good Game). These differences persist even when controlling for demographics, cognitive ability and risk preferences. In games that do not engage other-regarding preferences (Beauty-contest and Second-price Auction) there is limited evidence of differences in behaviour between subject pools. In none of the five games is there evidence of significant differences in comprehension between students and non-students. Within subject analyses indicate that students are highly consistent in their other-regarding preferences while non-student subjects are inconsistent across other-regarding games. Our findings suggest that experiments using students will provide a lower bound estimate of other-regardedness in the general population while exaggerating the stability of other-regarding preferences.

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File URL: http://cess-wb.nuff.ox.ac.uk/documents/DP2010/CESS_DP2010_001.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Nuffield College in its series Discussion Papers with number 2010001.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cex:dpaper:2010001
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cess-wb.nuff.ox.ac.uk/
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  1. Jeffrey Carpenter & Cristina Connolly & Caitlin Myers, 2008. "Altruistic behavior in a representative dictator experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 282-298, September.
  2. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "Viewpoint: On the generalizability of lab behaviour to the field," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 347-370, May.
  3. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2009. "Field Centipedes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1619-35, September.
  4. Chou, Eileen & McConnell, Margaret & Nagel, Rosemarie & Plott, Charles R., 2007. "The control of game form recognition in experiments: Understanding dominant strategy failures in a simple two person “Guessing” game," Working Papers 1274, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  5. Andreas Ortmann & John Fitzgerald & Carl Boeing, 2000. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History: A Re-examination," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 81-100, June.
  6. Marco Casari & John C. Ham & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Selection bias, demographic effects, and ability effects in common value auction experiments," Staff Reports 213, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  7. Antoni Bosch-Dom�nech & Jos� G. Montalvo & Rosemarie Nagel & Albert Satorra, 2002. "One, Two, (Three), Infinity, ...: Newspaper and Lab Beauty-Contest Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1687-1701, December.
  8. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  9. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Normann, Hans Theo, 2011. "A within-subject analysis of other-regarding preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 321-338, June.
  10. Martin Kocher & Matthias Sutter, 2007. "Trust and trustworthiness across different age groups," Artefactual Field Experiments 00110, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Camerer, Colin F. & Ho, Teck H. & Chong, Juin-Kuan., 2000. "Sophisticated EWA Learning and Strategic Teaching in Repeated Games," Working Papers 1087, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  12. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-26, December.
  13. Danielson, Anders J. & Holm, Hakan J., 2007. "Do you trust your brethren?: Eliciting trust attitudes and trust behavior in a Tanzanian congregation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 255-271, February.
  14. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  15. Gachter, Simon & Herrmann, Benedikt & Thoni, Christian, 2004. "Trust, voluntary cooperation, and socio-economic background: survey and experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 505-531, December.
  16. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Götte, Lorenz & Rustichini, Aldo, 2008. "Cognitive Skills Explain Economic Preferences, Strategic Behavior, and Job Attachment," IZA Discussion Papers 3609, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Chetan Dave & Catherine Eckel & Cathleen Johnson & Christian Rojas, 2010. "Eliciting risk preferences: When is simple better?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 219-243, December.
  18. Casari, Marco & Cason, Timothy N., 2009. "The strategy method lowers measured trustworthy behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 157-159, June.
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