An Experiment on Experimental Instructions

Quaderni DSE Working Paper No. 794

29 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2011

See all articles by Maria Bigoni

Maria Bigoni

University of Bologna - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Davide Dragone

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 26, 2011

Abstract

In this paper we treat instructions as an experimental variable. Using a public good game, we study how the instructions' format affects the participants' understanding of the experiment, their speed of play and their experimental behavior. We show that longer instructions do not significantly improve the subjects' understanding of the experiment; on-screen instructions shorten average decision times with respect to on-paper instructions, and requiring forced inputs reduces waiting times, in particular for the slowest subjects.

Consistent with cognitive load theory, we find that short, on-screen instructions which require forced inputs improve on subjects' comprehension and familiarity with the experimental task, and they contribute to reduce both decision and waiting times without affecting the overall pattern of contributions.

Keywords: Cognitive load theory, Comprehension, Distraction, Experimental instructions

JEL Classification: C72, C90, H41

Suggested Citation

Bigoni, Maria and Dragone, Davide, An Experiment on Experimental Instructions (October 26, 2011). Quaderni DSE Working Paper No. 794. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1950545 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1950545

Maria Bigoni (Contact Author)

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, Bologna 40126
Italy
+390512098134 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/maria.bigoni/en

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

Davide Dragone

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, 40126
Italy
0039.051.2098880 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/davide.dragone/en

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