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Experimental Economics in Virtual Reality


  • Gürerk, Özgür
  • Bönsch, Andrea
  • Braun, Lucas
  • Grund, Christian
  • Harbring, Christine
  • Kittsteiner, Thomas
  • Staffeldt, Andreas


Recent developments in virtual reality (VR) technology have the potential to revolutionize the way economists do experimental research. With Oculus’ light and affordable head mounted display (HMD) human subjects can literally move and use objects in virtual spaces and interact with others. This technology as well as surround-screen projection systems like CAVEs (Cruz-Neira et al. 1994), allow the experimenter to observe economically relevant behavior and social interaction in a highly immersive and at the same time tightly controlled virtual environment. More than other disciplines, economics focuses on the evaluation of counterfactual scenarios which help to analyze strategic decisions and their efficiency effects. In this note, by means of three examples, we illustrate how experiments in highly IVEs can add value to experimental economics and benefit economic research.

Suggested Citation

  • Gürerk, Özgür & Bönsch, Andrea & Braun, Lucas & Grund, Christian & Harbring, Christine & Kittsteiner, Thomas & Staffeldt, Andreas, 2014. "Experimental Economics in Virtual Reality," MPRA Paper 62073, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 27 Jan 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:62073

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sascha Fullbrunn & Katharina Richwien & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2011. "Trust and Trustworthiness in Anonymous Virtual Worlds," Journal of Media Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 48-63.
    2. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    3. Chesney, Thomas & Chuah, Swee-Hoon & Hoffmann, Robert, 2009. "Virtual world experimentation: An exploratory study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 618-635, October.
    4. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2007. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark: A Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 341-368, June.
    5. John Duffy, 2011. "Symposium: Trust in Second Life," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 53-62, July.
    6. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    7. Fiore, Stephen M. & Harrison, Glenn W. & Hughes, Charles E. & Rutstrm, E. Elisabet, 2009. "Virtual experiments and environmental policy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 65-86, January.
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    More about this item


    experimental economics; virtual reality; immersive virtual environment; risk preferences; real effort; avatar; reflection problem; experimental methodology;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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