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Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments?

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  • Cleave, Blair L.
  • Nikiforakis, Nikos
  • Slonim, Robert

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

  • Cleave, Blair L. & Nikiforakis, Nikos & Slonim, Robert, 2010. "Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments?," Working Papers 2010-01, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:syd:wpaper:2123/6957
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    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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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Stoop, 2014. "From the lab to the field: envelopes, dictators and manners," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(2), pages 304-313, June.
    2. Blair Cleave & Nikos Nikiforakis & Robert Slonim, 2013. "Is there selection bias in laboratory experiments? The case of social and risk preferences," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(3), pages 372-382, September.
    3. Cubitt, Robin P. & Drouvelis, Michalis & Gächter, Simon & Kabalin, Ruslan, 2011. "Moral judgments in social dilemmas: How bad is free riding?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 253-264.
    4. Andreas Drichoutis & Kyriaki Remoundou & Phoebe Koundouri, "undated". "Warm glow in charitable auctions: Are the WEIRDos driving the results?," DEOS Working Papers 1025, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    5. Ellen Garbarino & Robert Slonim & Justin Sydnor, 2011. "Digit ratios (2D:4D) as predictors of risky decision making for both sexes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 1-26, February.
    6. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2012. "Social Incentives Matter: Evidence from an Online Real Effort Experiment," AICCON Working Papers 112-2012, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
    7. Samuel Bowles & Sandra Polania-Reyes, 2011. "Economic incentives and social preferences: substitutes or complements?," Department of Economics University of Siena 617, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    8. Jon Anderson & Stephen Burks & Jeffrey Carpenter & Lorenz Götte & Karsten Maurer & Daniele Nosenzo & Ruth Potter & Kim Rocha & Aldo Rustichini, 2013. "Self-selection and variations in the laboratory measurement of other-regarding preferences across subject pools: evidence from one college student and two adult samples," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(2), pages 170-189, June.
    9. Tom Wilkening, 2011. "Experimental Economics: Rethinking the Rules," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 87(276), pages 178-180, March.
    10. 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.
    11. Khadjavi, Menusch & Lange, Andreas, 2013. "Prisoners and their dilemma," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 163-175.
    12. Pelligra, Vittorio & Stanca, Luca, 2013. "To give or not to give? Equity, efficiency and altruistic behavior in an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-9.
    13. Hoffman, Mitchell & Morgan, John, 2015. "Who's naughty? Who's nice? Experiments on whether pro-social workers are selected out of cutthroat business environments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 173-187.
    14. Astrid Matthey & Tobias Regner, 2013. "On the independence of history: experience spill-overs between experiments," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(3), pages 403-419, September.
    15. Slonim, Robert & Wang, Carmen & Garbarino, Ellen & Merrett, Danielle, 2012. "Opting-In: Participation Biases in the Lab," IZA Discussion Papers 6865, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    external validity; social preferences; selection bias; laboratory experiments; risk preferences;

    JEL classification:

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

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