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Do People Behave in Experiments as in the Field? Evidence from Donations


Benz, Matthias; Meier, Stephan (2006). Do People Behave in Experiments as in the Field? Evidence from Donations. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 248, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Laboratory experiments are an important methodology in economics, especially in the field of behavioral economics. However, it is still debated to what extent results from laboratory experiments can be applied to field settings. One highly important question with respect to the external validity of experiments is whether the same individuals act in experiments as they wouldnin the field.nThis paper presents evidence on how individuals behave in donation experiments and how thensame individuals behave in a naturally occurring decision situation on charitable giving. The results show that behavior in experiments is correlated with behavior in the field. The results are robust to variations in the experimental setting, and the correlation between experimental and field behavior is between 0.25 and 0.4. We discuss whether this correlation should be interpreted as strong or weak and what consequences the findings have for experimental economics.

Abstract

Laboratory experiments are an important methodology in economics, especially in the field of behavioral economics. However, it is still debated to what extent results from laboratory experiments can be applied to field settings. One highly important question with respect to the external validity of experiments is whether the same individuals act in experiments as they wouldnin the field.nThis paper presents evidence on how individuals behave in donation experiments and how thensame individuals behave in a naturally occurring decision situation on charitable giving. The results show that behavior in experiments is correlated with behavior in the field. The results are robust to variations in the experimental setting, and the correlation between experimental and field behavior is between 0.25 and 0.4. We discuss whether this correlation should be interpreted as strong or weak and what consequences the findings have for experimental economics.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:February 2006
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 22:47
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 10:12
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html

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