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Opting-In: Participation Biases in the Lab

Author

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  • 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 for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6865
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Matteo M. Galizzi & Daniel Navarro Martinez, 2015. "On the external validity of social-preference games: A systematic lab-field study," Economics Working Papers 1462, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    3. 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.
    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 Group Munich.
    5. Galizzi, Matteo M. & Navarro-Martínez, Daniel, 2018. "On the external validity of social preference games: a systematic lab-field study," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84088, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Judd Kessler, 2013. "When will there be Gift Exchange? Addressing the Lab-Field Debate with Laboratory Gift Exchange Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 4161, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. 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.
    8. Omar Al-Ubaydli & John A. List, 2013. "On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With A Response To Camerer," NBER Working Papers 19666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. 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.
    10. repec:spr:jesaex:v:3:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s40881-017-0043-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & Hong Il Yoo, 2017. "Risk Attitudes, Sample Selection and Attrition in a Longitudinal Field Experiment," Working Papers 2017_07, Durham University Business School.
    12. repec:spr:jesaex:v:3:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s40881-017-0036-z is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    laboratory experiments; participation bias;

    JEL classification:

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

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