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Opting-In: Participation Biases in the Lab

Author

Listed:
  • Slonim, Robert

    () (University of Sydney)

  • Wang, Carmen

    () (Harvard Business School)

  • Garbarino, Ellen

    () (University of Sydney)

  • Merrett, Danielle

    () (University of Sydney)

Abstract

Assuming individuals rationally decide whether to participate or not to participate in lab experiments, we hypothesize several non-representative biases in the characteristics of lab participants. We test the hypotheses by first collecting survey and experimental data on a typical recruitment population and then inviting them to participate in a lab experiment. The results indicate that lab participants are not representative of the target population on almost all the hypothesized characteristics, including having lower income, working fewer hours, volunteering more often, and exhibiting behaviors correlated with interest in experiments and economics. We discuss the implications and various methods for addressing non-representative biases.

Suggested Citation

  • Slonim, Robert & Wang, Carmen & Garbarino, Ellen & Merrett, Danielle, 2012. "Opting-In: Participation Biases in the Lab," IZA Discussion Papers 6865, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6865
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    Cited by:

    1. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & Hong Il Yoo, 2020. "Risk Attitudes, Sample Selection, and Attrition in a Longitudinal Field Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 552-568, July.
    2. A. Alekseev & Mikhail Freer, 2018. "Selection in the Lab: A Network Approach," Working Papers ECARES 2018-32, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Blair Cleave & Nikos Nikiforakis & Robert Slonim, 2013. "Is there selection bias in laboratory experiments? The case of social and risk preferences," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(3), pages 372-382, September.
    4. Omar Al-Ubaydli & John A. List, 2013. "On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With a Response to Commentors," CESifo Working Paper Series 4543, CESifo.
    5. Matteo M. Galizzi & Daniel Navarro-Martínez, 2015. "On the External Validity of Social Preference Games: A Systematic Lab-Field Study," Working Papers 802, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    6. Eszter Czibor & David Jimenez‐Gomez & John A. List, 2019. "The Dozen Things Experimental Economists Should Do (More of)," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 86(2), pages 371-432, October.
    7. Schmidt, Robert & Schwieren, Christiane & Sproten, Alec N., 2020. "Norms in the lab: Inexperienced versus experienced participants," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 239-255.
    8. Volker Benndorf & Claudia Moellers & Hans-Theo Normann, 2017. "Experienced vs. inexperienced participants in the lab: do they behave differently?," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(1), pages 12-25, July.
    9. Omar Al-Ubaydli & John List, 2013. "On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With A Response To Camerer," Artefactual Field Experiments j0001, The Field Experiments Website.
    10. Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo, 2013. "Self-selection into Economics Experiments is Driven by Monetary Rewards," Discussion Papers 2013-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    11. Judd Kessler & Judd B. Kessler, 2013. "When will there be Gift Exchange? Addressing the Lab-Field Debate with Laboratory Gift Exchange Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 4161, CESifo.
    12. Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo, 2015. "Self-selection into laboratory experiments: pro-social motives versus monetary incentives," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(2), pages 195-214, June.
    13. Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2015. "Corporate Philanthropy and Productivity: Evidence from an Online Real Effort Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(8), pages 1795-1811, August.
    14. Schmidt, Robert J. & Schwieren, Christiane & Sproten, Alec N., 2018. "Social Norm Perception in Economic Laboratory Experiments: Inexperienced versus Experienced Participants," Working Papers 0656, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    15. Loukas Balafoutas & Helena Fornwagner, 2017. "The limits of guilt," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(2), pages 137-148, December.
    16. Zahra Murad & Charitini Stavropoulou & Graham Cookson, 2019. "Incentives and gender in a multi-task setting: An experimental study with real-effort tasks," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(3), pages 1-18, March.

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    Keywords

    laboratory experiments; participation bias;

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments

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