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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1536400
 
 

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Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences


Armin Falk


Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); University of Bonn - Economic Science Area; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

James J. Heckman


University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

December 2009

CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2894

Abstract:     
Laboratory experiments are a widely used methodology for advancing causal knowledge in the physical and life sciences. With the exception of psychology, the adoption of laboratory experiments has been much slower in the social sciences, although during the last two decades, the use of lab experiments has accelerated. Nonetheless, there remains considerable resistance among social scientists who argue that lab experiments lack ‘realism’ and ‘generalizability’. In this article we discuss the advantages and limitations of laboratory social science experiments by comparing them to research based on non-experimental data and to field experiments. We argue that many recent objections against lab experiments are misguided and that even more lab experiments should be conducted.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 17

Keywords: laboratory experiments, field experiments, controlled variation

JEL Classification: C90, C91, C92, C93, D00

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Date posted: January 16, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Falk, Armin and Heckman, James J., Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences (December 2009). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2894. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1536400

Contact Information

Armin Falk (Contact Author)
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )
P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany
University of Bonn - Economic Science Area
Adenauerallee 24-42
D-53113 Bonn
Germany
CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)
Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany
James J. Heckman
University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )
1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0634 (Phone)
773-702-8490 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
American Bar Foundation
750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany
CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)
Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany
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