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Do Control Questions Influence Behavior in Experiments?

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  • Catherine Roux
  • Christian Thöni

Abstract

Outcomes and strategies shown in control questions prior to experimental play may provide subjects with anchors or induce experimenter demand effects. In a Cournot oligopoly experiment we explore whether control questions influence subjects' choices in initial periods and over the course of a repeated game. We vary the framing of the control question to explore the cause of potential influences. We find no evidence for an influence of the control question on choices, neither in the first period nor later in the game.

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine Roux & Christian Thöni, 2013. "Do Control Questions Influence Behavior in Experiments?," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 13.03, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  • Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:13.03
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Barmettler, Franziska & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2012. "Big experimenter is watching you! Anonymity and prosocial behavior in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 17-34.
    2. Daniel Zizzo, 2010. "Experimenter demand effects in economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(1), pages 75-98, March.
    3. Zizzo, Daniel John & Fleming, Piers, 2011. "Can experimental measures of sensitivity to social pressure predict public good contribution?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 111(3), pages 239-242, June.
    4. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    5. Roux, Catherine & Thöni, Christian, 2015. "Collusion among many firms: The disciplinary power of targeted punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 83-93.
    6. Dan Ariely & George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 2003. ""Coherent Arbitrariness": Stable Demand Curves Without Stable Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 73-106.
    7. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 2004. "Two are few and four are many: number effects in experimental oligopolies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 435-446, April.
    8. Furnham, Adrian & Boo, Hua Chu, 2011. "A literature review of the anchoring effect," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 35-42, February.
    9. Bergman, Oscar & Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus & Svensson, Cicek, 2010. "Anchoring and cognitive ability," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 66-68, April.
    10. Nicholas Bardsley, 2008. "Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(2), pages 122-133, June.
    11. Zacharias Maniadis & Fabio Tufano & John A. List, 2014. "One Swallow Doesn't Make a Summer: New Evidence on Anchoring Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(1), pages 277-290, January.
    12. Stefania Sitzia & Daniel Zizzo, 2011. "Does product complexity matter for competition in experimental retail markets?," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(1), pages 65-82, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baptiste Massenot & Maria Maraki & Christian Thoeni, 2016. "Legal compliance and litigation spending under the English and American rule: Experimental evidence," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 16.19, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
    2. Deffains, Bruno & Espinosa, Romain & Thöni, Christian, 2016. "Political self-serving bias and redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 67-74.
    3. Roux, Catherine & Thöni, Christian, 2015. "Collusion among many firms: The disciplinary power of targeted punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 83-93.
    4. Roux, Catherine & Santos-Pinto, Luís & Thöni, Christian, 2016. "Home bias in multimarket Cournot games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 361-371.
    5. Bruno Deffains & Romain Espinosa & Christian Thöni, 2016. "Political self-serving bias and redistribution," Post-Print halshs-01634208, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Control questions; Experimenter demand effects; Anchoring; Experimental design;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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