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Social preferences in the online laboratory: A randomized experiment

Internet is a very attractive technology for experiments implementation, both in order to reach more diverse and larger samples and as a field of economic research in its own right. This paper reports on an experiment performed both online and in the laboratory, designed so as to strengthen the internal validity of decisions elicited over the Internet. We use the same subject pool, the same monetary stakes and the same decision interface, and randomly assign two group of subjects between the Internet and a traditional University laboratory to compare behavior in a set of social preferences games. This comparison concludes in favor of the reliability of behaviors elicited through the Internet. Our behavioral results contradict the predictions of social distance theory, as we find that subjects allocated to the Internet treatment behave as if they were more altruistic, more trusting, more trustworthy and less risk averse than laboratory subjects. Those findings have practical importance for the growing community of researchers interested in using the Internet as a vehicle for social experiments and bear interesting methodological lessons for social scientists interested in using experiments to research the Internet as a field.

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File URL: ftp://mse.univ-paris1.fr/pub/mse/CES2012/12070.pdf
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Paper provided by Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne in its series Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne with number 12070.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mse:cesdoc:12070
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  12. Lotito, Gianna & Migheli, Matteo & Ortona, Guido, 2011. "Is cooperation instinctive? Evidence from the response times in a Public Goods Game," POLIS Working Papers 161, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
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  14. Müller,Rudolf, 2001. "Auctions - the Big Winner Among Trading Mechanisms for the Internet Economy," Research Memorandum 015, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  15. Cooper, David J. & Saral, Krista Jabs, 2013. "Entrepreneurship and team participation: An experimental study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 126-140.
  16. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  17. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
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  19. Charness, Gary & Haruvy, Ernan & Sonsino, Doron, 2007. "Social distance and reciprocity: An Internet experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 88-103, May.
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