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Social preferences in the online laboratory : A randomized experiment

  • Jérôme Hergueux

    ()

    (LaRGE - Laboratoire de Recherche en Gestion et Economie, IEP Paris - Sciences Po Paris - Institut d'études politiques de Paris)

  • Nicolas Jacquemet

    ()

    (Axe Microéconomie Appliquée et Econométrie - CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - BETA - Bureau d'économie théorique et appliquée - CNRS - Université Nancy II - Université de Strasbourg - EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics)

Internet is a very attractive technology for experiments implementation, both in order to reach more diverse and larger samples and as a field of economic research in its own right. This paper reports on an experiment performed both online and in the laboratory, designed so as to strengthen the internal validity of decisions elicited over the Internet. We use the same subject pool, the same monetary stakes and the same decision interface, and randomly assign two group of subjects between the Internet and a traditional University laboratory to compare behavior in a set of social preferences games. This comparison concludes in favor of the reliability of behaviors elicited through the Internet. Our behavioral results contradict the predictions of social distance theory, as we find that subjects allocated to the Internet treatment behave as if they were more altruistic, more trusting, more trustworthy and less risk averse than laboratory subjects. Those findings have practical importance for the growing community of researchers interested in using the Internet as a vehicle for social experiments and bear interesting methodological lessons for social scientists interested in using experiments to research the Internet as a field.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) with number halshs-00748615.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-00748615
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  1. Catherine Eckel & Rick Wilson, 2006. "Internet cautions: Experimental games with internet partners," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 53-66, April.
  2. V. Anderhub & R. Müller & C. Schmidt, 1998. "Design and Evaluation of an Economic Experiment via the Internet," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1998,69, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  3. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
  4. Resnick, Paul & Zeckhauser, Richard & Swanson, John & Lockwood, Kate, 2003. "The Value of Reputation on eBay: A Controlled Experiment," Working Paper Series rwp03-007, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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  6. Shavit, Tal & Sonsino, Doron & Benzion, Uri, 2001. "A comparative study of lotteries-evaluation in class and on the Web," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 483-491, August.
  7. Thomas Chesney & Swee-Hoon Chuah & Robert Hoffmann, 2007. "Virtual world experimentation: An exploratory study," Occasional Papers 21, Industrial Economics Division.
  8. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Ariel Rubinstein, 2006. "Instinctive and Cognitive Reasoning: A Study of Response Times," Discussion Papers 1424, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2011. "Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants, and behavioral consequences," Munich Reprints in Economics 20048, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  11. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  12. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  13. Charness, Gary & Haruvy, Ernan & Sonsino, Doron, 2007. "Social distance and reciprocity: An Internet experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 88-103, May.
  14. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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