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Handbook of Experimental Economic Methodology$
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Guillaume R. Fréchette and Andrew Schotter

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780195328325

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328325.001.0001

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The Lab and the Field: Empirical and Experimental Economics

The Lab and the Field: Empirical and Experimental Economics

(p.407) 19 The Lab and the Field: Empirical and Experimental Economics
Handbook of Experimental Economic Methodology

David Reiley

Oxford University Press

This chapter comments on two articles, by Kagel and by Harrison, Lau, and Rutstrom. These articles emphasize “control” as one of the most important aspects of experimental economics. By contrast, the chapter suggests that “control” is not always an unambiguously good thing. There are three reasons why control might be undesirable. First, many economic decisions take more time to reach than the typical time limits in a laboratory session. Second, despite careful laboratory protocols to prevent communication, people often do talk to others when making real-world decisions. Third, we do not know whether economic theory is correct in its primitive assumptions, such as modeling charities as public goods or (b) bidder values to be privately known in auctions. If it turns out that such features matter for economic decision-making, we will only know the truth by going outside the traditional laboratory setting.

Keywords:   experimental economics, laboratory experiments, field experiments, economic theory

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