Persuasion Bias in Science: Can Economics Help?

39 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2017

See all articles by Alfredo Di Tillio

Alfredo Di Tillio

Bocconi University - Department of Economics

Marco Ottaviani

Bocconi University - Department of Economics

Peter Norman Sørensen

University of Copenhagen

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Date Written: October 2017

Abstract

We investigate the impact of conflicts of interests on randomised controlled trials in a game‐theoretic framework. A researcher seeks to persuade an evaluator that the causal effect of a treatment outweighs its cost, to justify acceptance. The researcher can use private information to manipulate the experiment in three alternative ways: (i) sampling subjects based on their treatment effect, (ii) assigning subjects to treatment based on their baseline outcome, or (iii) selectively reporting experimental outcomes. The resulting biases have different welfare implications: for sufficiently high acceptance cost, in our binary illustration the evaluator loses in cases (i) and (iii) but benefits in case (ii).

Suggested Citation

Di Tillio, Alfredo and Ottaviani, Marco and Sørensen, Peter Norman, Persuasion Bias in Science: Can Economics Help? (October 2017). The Economic Journal, Vol. 127, Issue 605, pp. F266-F304, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3058415 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecoj.12515

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 Sørensen

University of Copenhagen

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165
Denmark

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