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Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments?

Author

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  • Blair L. Cleave
  • Nikos Nikiforakis
  • Robert Slonim

Abstract

Do the social and risk preferences of participants in laboratory experiments represent the preferences of the population from which they are recruited? To answer this question, we conducted a classroom experiment with a population of 1,173 students using a trust game and a lottery choice task to measure individual preferences. Separately, all 1,173 students were invited to participate in a laboratory experiment. To determine whether selection bias exists, we compare the preferences of the individuals who eventually participated in a laboratory experiment to those in the population. We find that the social and risk preferences of the students participating in the laboratory experiment are not significantly different from the preferences of the population from which they were recruited. We further show that participation decisions across most subgroups (e.g., men vs. women) do not differ significantly. We therefore fail to find selection bias based on social and risk preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Blair L. Cleave & Nikos Nikiforakis & Robert Slonim, 2010. "Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments?," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1106, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1106
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    1. Is there really no selection bias in laboratory experiments?
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2011-01-07 22:31:00

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    Keywords

    selection bias; laboratory experiments; external validity; social preferences; risk preferences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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