53 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2017 Last revised: 6 May 2018
Date Written: April 30, 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’ understanding. We report a one-shot individual decision task in which misunderstanding can be unambiguously identified in behavior and find that misunderstanding 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 subjects’ misunderstanding, and we find that we can induce a similar reduction in misunderstanding via enhancements to the content of instructions. Residual misunderstanding suggests this may be an important source of noise in experimental studies.
Keywords: Attention, Comprehension, Instructions
JEL Classification: C91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation