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Context and Interpretation in Laboratory Experiments: The Case of Reciprocity

  • Maria Vittoria Levati

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)

  • Topi Miettinen

    (Aalto School of Economics, Alto)

  • Birendra K. Rai


    (Monash Univeristy, Clayton)

The existing literature acknowledges that a mismatch between the experimenter's and the subjects' models of an experimental task can adversely affect the interpretation of data from laboratory experiments. We discuss why the two common experimental designs (between-subjects and within-subjects) used to conduct experiments may fail to sufficiently account for this concern. An alternative design for laboratory experiments is proposed which may alleviate this concern especially in studies of social preferences. The proposed design is used to answer some questions that have attracted continued attention in the literature on social preferences in general and reciprocity in particular.

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2010-090.

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Date of creation: 14 Dec 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2010-090
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