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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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  1. Anderhub,Vital & M�ller,Rudolf & Schmidt,Carsten, 2001. "Design and Evaluation of an Economic Experiment via the Internet," Research Memorandum 016, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  2. 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.
  3. Thomas Chesney & Swee-Hoon Chuah & Robert Hoffmann, 2007. "Virtual world experimentation: An exploratory study," Discussion Papers 2007-14, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  4. Shavit, Tal & Sonsino, Doron & Benzion, Uri, 2001. "A comparative study of lotteries-evaluation in class and on the Web," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 483-491, August.
  5. Marco Piovesan & Erik Wengström, 2008. "Fast or Fair? A Study of Response Times," Discussion Papers 08-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  6. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  7. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2011. "Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants, and behavioral consequences," Munich Reprints in Economics 20048, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
  9. Horton, John J. & Rand, David G. & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2010. "The Online Laboratory: Conducting Experiments in a Real Labor Market," Working Paper Series rwp10-017, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  10. Marina Fiedler & Ernan Haruvy, 2009. "The Lab versus the Virtual Lab and Virtual Field - An Experimental Investigation of Trust Games with Communication," Post-Print hal-00723190, HAL.
  11. Ariel Rubinstein, 2007. "Instinctive and Cognitive Reasoning: A Study of Response Times," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(523), pages 1243-1259, October.
  12. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  13. Gianna Lotito & Matteo Migheli & Guido Ortona, 2013. "Is cooperation instinctive? Evidence from the response times in a public goods game," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 123-133, July.
  14. Ariel Rubinstein, 2007. "Instinctive and Cognitive Reasoning: Response Times Study," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000001011, UCLA Department of Economics.
  15. Resnick, Paul & Zeckhauser, Richard & Swanson, John & Lockwood, Kate, 2003. "The Value of Reputation on eBay: A Controlled Experiment," Working Paper Series rwp03-007, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  16. Fiedler, Marina & Haruvy, Ernan, 2009. "The lab versus the virtual lab and virtual field--An experimental investigation of trust games with communication," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 716-724, November.
  17. Cooper, David J. & Saral, Krista Jabs, 2010. "Entrepreneurship and Team Participation: An Experimental Study," MPRA Paper 25144, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Joseph Henrich & Steve J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan, 2010. "The Weirdest People in the World?," Working Paper Series of the German Council for Social and Economic Data 139, German Council for Social and Economic Data (RatSWD).
  19. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846.
    • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
  21. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  22. Catherine Eckel & Rick Wilson, 2006. "Internet cautions: Experimental games with internet partners," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 53-66, April.
  23. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  24. Fiedler, Marina & Haruvy, Ernan & Li, Sherry Xin, 2011. "Social distance in a virtual world experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 400-426, June.
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