Opting-In: Participation Biases in the Lab

47 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2012

See all articles by Robert Slonim

Robert Slonim

The University of Sydney; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Carmen Wang

Harvard University - Department of Economics; HBS Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit

Ellen Garbarino

The University of Sydney

Danielle M. Merrett

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

Assuming individuals rationally decide whether to participate or not to participate in lab experiments, we hypothesize several non-representative biases in the characteristics of lab participants. We test the hypotheses by first collecting survey and experimental data on a typical recruitment population and then inviting them to participate in a lab experiment. The results indicate that lab participants are not representative of the target population on almost all the hypothesized characteristics, including having lower income, working fewer hours, volunteering more often, and exhibiting behaviors correlated with interest in experiments and economics. We discuss the implications and various methods for addressing non-representative biases.

Keywords: participation bias, laboratory experiments

JEL Classification: C9

Suggested Citation

Slonim, Robert and Wang, Carmen and Garbarino, Ellen and Merrett, Danielle M., Opting-In: Participation Biases in the Lab. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6865. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2158007

Robert Slonim (Contact Author)

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

Carmen Wang

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HBS Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Ellen Garbarino

The University of Sydney ( email )

Danielle M. Merrett

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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