The challenge of representative design in psychology and economics
The demands of representative design, as formulated by Egon Brunswik (1956), set a high methodological standard. Both experimental participants and the situations with which they are faced should be representative of the populations to which researchers claim to generalize results. Failure to observe the latter has led to notable experimental failures in psychology from which economics could learn. It also raises questions about the meaning of testing economic theories in “abstract” environments. Logically, abstract tests can only be generalized to “abstract realities” and these may or may not have anything to do with the “empirical realities” experienced by economic actors.
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