A Theory of Experimenters

NBER Working Paper No. 23867

Posted: 25 May 2018

See all articles by Sylvain Chassang

Sylvain Chassang

New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 1, 2017


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.

Suggested Citation

Chassang, Sylvain, A Theory of Experimenters (September 1, 2017). NBER Working Paper No. 23867, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3179202

Sylvain Chassang (Contact Author)

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

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

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