Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments?

Univ. of Melbourne Dept. of Economics Working Paper No. 1106

35 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2010

See all articles by Blair Llewellyn Cleave

Blair Llewellyn Cleave

University of Melbourne - Centre for Actuarial Studies

Nikos Nikiforakis

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Robert Slonim

The University of Sydney; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: August 10, 2010

Abstract

Do the social and risk preferences of participants in laboratory experiments represent the preferences of the population from which they are recruited? To answer this question, we conducted a classroom experiment with a population of 1,173 students using a trust game and a lottery choice task to measure individual preferences. Separately, all 1,173 students were invited to participate in a laboratory experiment. To determine whether selection bias exists, we compare the preferences of the individuals who eventually participated in a laboratory experiment to those in the population. We find that the social and risk preferences of the students participating in the laboratory experiment are not significantly different from the preferences of the population from which they were recruited. We further show that participation decisions across most subgroups (e.g., men vs. women) do not differ significantly. We therefore fail to find selection bias based on social and risk preferences.

Keywords: selection bias, laboratory experiments, external validity, social preferences, risk preferences

JEL Classification: C90, D03

Suggested Citation

Cleave, Blair Llewellyn and Nikiforakis, Nikos and Slonim, Robert, Is There Selection Bias in Laboratory Experiments? (August 10, 2010). Univ. of Melbourne Dept. of Economics Working Paper No. 1106. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1666581 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1666581

Blair Llewellyn Cleave

University of Melbourne - Centre for Actuarial Studies ( email )

Melbourne, 3010
Australia

Nikos Nikiforakis (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/nnikiforakis/home

Robert Slonim

The University of Sydney ( email )

University of Sydney
Sydney, NC NSW 2006
Australia

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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