Estimating Rationality in Economics: A History of Statistical Methods in Experimental Economics

The Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series, Duke University

37 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2018

See all articles by Dorian Jullien

Dorian Jullien

Université Côte d'Azur

Nicolas Vallois

University of Picardy Jules Verne - CRIISEA

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 25, 2018

Abstract

Experimental economists increasingly apply econometric techniques to interpret their data, as suggests the emergence of "experimetrics" in the 2000s. Yet statistics remains a minor topic in historical and methodological writings on experimental economics (EE). This article aims to address this lacuna. To do so, we analyze the use of statistical tools in EE from early economics experiments of the 1940s-1950s to the present days. Our narrative is based on qualitative analysis of papers published in early periods and quantitative analysis of papers published in more recent periods. Our results reveal a significant change in EE' statistical methods, namely an evolution from purely descriptive methods to more sophisticated and standardized techniques. We also highlight that, despite the decisive role played by statistics in the way EE estimate the rationality of individuals or markets, statistics are still considered as involving non-methodological issues, i.e., as involving only purely technical issues. Our historical analysis shows that this technical conception was the result of a long-run evolution of the process of scientific legitimization of EE, which allowed experimental economists to escape from psychologist's more reflexive culture toward statistics.

Keywords: Experimental Economics, Statistics, Econometrics, History of Economic Thought, Methodology

JEL Classification: B20, C83, A14, C90

Suggested Citation

Jullien, Dorian and Vallois, Nicolas, Estimating Rationality in Economics: A History of Statistical Methods in Experimental Economics (January 25, 2018). The Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series, Duke University. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3116220 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3116220

Dorian Jullien (Contact Author)

Université Côte d'Azur ( email )

France

Nicolas Vallois

University of Picardy Jules Verne - CRIISEA ( email )

Pôle Universitaire Cathédrale
10 placette Lafleur BP 2716
Amiens, 80027
France

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
110
Abstract Views
549
rank
178,026
PlumX Metrics