A Theory of Experimenters

46 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2017

See all articles by Abhijit V. Banerjee

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Sylvain Chassang

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics

Sergio Montero

California Institute of Technology

Erik Snowberg

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 16, 2017

Abstract

This paper proposes a decision-theoretic framework for experiment design. We model experimenters as ambiguity-averse decision-makers, who make trade-offs between subjective expected performance and robustness. This framework accounts for experimenters’ preference for randomization, and clarifies the circumstances in which randomization is optimal: when the available sample size is large enough or robustness is an important concern. We illustrate the practical value of such a framework by studying the issue of rerandomization. Rerandomization creates a trade-off between subjective performance and robustness. However, robustness loss grows very slowly with the number of times one randomizes. This argues for rerandomizing in most environments.

Keywords: experiment design, robustness, ambiguity aversion, randomization, rerandomization

JEL Classification: C900, D780, D810

Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Chassang, Sylvain and Montero, Sergio and Snowberg, Erik, A Theory of Experimenters (October 16, 2017). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6678. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3058579

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-252D
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-8855 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)

Sylvain Chassang

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics ( email )

19 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Sergio Montero

California Institute of Technology ( email )

Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

Erik Snowberg (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

1200 East California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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