Journal of the Economic Science Association (2018)
58 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2017 Last revised: 9 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 23, 2018
A survey of instruction delivery and reinforcement methods in recent laboratory experiments reveals a wide and inconsistently-reported variety of practices and limited research evaluating their effectiveness. Thus we experimentally compare how methods of delivering and reinforcing experiment instructions impact subjects’ comprehension and retention of payoff-relevant information. We report a one-shot individual decision task in which non money-maximizing behavior can be unambiguously identified and find that such behavior is prevalent in our baseline treatment which uses plain, but relatively standard experimental instructions. We find combinations of reinforcement methods that can eliminate half of non money-maximizing behavior, and we find that we can induce a similar reduction via enhancements to the content of instructions. Residual non money-maximizing behavior suggests this may be an important source of noise in experimental studies.
Keywords: Attention, Comprehension, Instructions
JEL Classification: C91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation