Experimenter Demand Effects in Economic Experiments

37 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2008

See all articles by Daniel John Zizzo

Daniel John Zizzo

University of Queensland - School of Economics

Date Written: July 1, 2008


Experimenter demand effects refer to changes in behavior by experimental subjects due to cues about what constitutes appropriate behavior. We argue that they can either be social or purely cognitive, and that, when they may exist, it crucially matters how they relate to the true experimental objectives. They are usually a potential problem only when they are positively correlated with the true experimental objectives' predictions, and we identify techniques such as non-deceptive obfuscation to minimize this correlation. We discuss the persuasiveness or otherwise of defenses that can be used against demand effects criticisms when such correlation remains an issue.

Keywords: experimenter demand effects, experimental design, experimental instructions, social desirability, social pressure, framing, methodology

JEL Classification: B41, C91, C92

Suggested Citation

Zizzo, Daniel John, Experimenter Demand Effects in Economic Experiments (July 1, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1163863 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1163863

Daniel John Zizzo (Contact Author)

University of Queensland - School of Economics ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072

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