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Experimental Subjects are Not Different

  • Filippos Exadaktylos

    (GLoBE, University of Granada)

  • Antonio M. Espin

    (GLoBE, University of Granada)

  • Pablo Branas-Garza

    (GLoBE, University of Granada and Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)

Experiments using economic games are becoming a major source for the study of human social behavior. These experiments are usually conducted with university students who voluntarily choose to participate. Across the natural and social sciences, there is some concern about how this “particular” subject pool may systematically produce biased results. Focusing on social preferences, this study employs data from a survey experiment conducted with a representative sample of a city’s population (N=765). We report behavioral data from five experimental decisions in three canonical games: dictator, ultimatum and trust games. The dataset includes students and non-students as well as volunteers and nonvolunteers. We separately examine the effects of being a student and being a volunteer on behavior, which allows a ceteris paribus comparison between self-selected students (students*volunteers) and the representative population. Our results suggest that self-selected students are an appropriate subject pool for the study of social behavior.

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File URL: http://www.chapman.edu/research-and-institutions/economic-science-institute/_files/WorkingPapers/branas-garza-students-volunteers-and-subjects.pdf
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Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 12-11.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:12-11
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  1. Ernst Fehr & John List, 2004. "The hidden costs and returns of incentives - trust and trustworthiness among ceos," Artefactual Field Experiments 00044, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Cleave, Blair L. & Nikiforakis, Nikos & Slonim, Robert, 2011. "Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments? The Case of Social and Risk Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 5488, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Catherine Eckel & Philip Grossman, 2000. "Volunteers and Pseudo-Volunteers: The Effect of Recruitment Method in Dictator Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 107-120, October.
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  6. Charles Bellemare & Sabine Kröger & Arthur van Soest, 2008. "Measuring Inequity Aversion in a Heterogeneous Population Using Experimental Decisions and Subjective Probabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(4), pages 815-839, 07.
  7. 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.
  8. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
  9. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  10. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2005. "Behavioral Public Economics: Welfare and Policy Analysis with Non-Standard Decision-Makers," NBER Working Papers 11518, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Burks, Stephen & Carpenter, Jeffrey & Goette, Lorenz, 2009. "Performance pay and worker cooperation: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 458-469, June.
  12. Jeffrey Carpenter & Cristina Connolly & Caitlin Myers, 2008. "Altruistic behavior in a representative dictator experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 282-298, September.
  13. 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.
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