Persuasion Bias in Science: Can Economics Help?

47 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2016

See all articles by Alfredo Di Tillio

Alfredo Di Tillio

Bocconi University - Department of Economics

Marco Ottaviani

Bocconi University - Department of Economics

Peter Norman Sorensen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2016

Abstract

The widespread adoption of randomized controlled experiments owes much to their ability to curtail researchers' conflicts of interest. This paper casts data collection and analysis in a game-theoretic framework. A researcher aims at persuading an evaluator that the causal effect of a treatment outweighs its cost, so as to justify acceptance. The researcher uses private information to (1) sample subjects based on their treatment effect (challenging external validity), (2) assign subjects to treatment based on their baseline outcome (challenging internal validity), or (3) selectively report experimental outcomes (challenging both external and internal validity). The resulting biases have different welfare implications: for sufficiently high acceptance cost, the evaluator loses in cases (1) and (3), but benefits from the researcher's information in case (2).

JEL Classification: C90, D83

Suggested Citation

Di Tillio, Alfredo and Ottaviani, Marco and Sorensen, Peter Norman, Persuasion Bias in Science: Can Economics Help? (June 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11343, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2801004

Alfredo Di Tillio (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Milan
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://mypage.unibocconi.eu/alfredoditillio

Marco Ottaviani

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

Peter Norman Sorensen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Oster Farimagsgade 5
Building 26
Copenhagen K, 1353
Denmark
+45 35 32 3056 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ku.dk/sorensen

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