The Ethics of Student Participation in Economic Experiments: Arguments and Evidence

26 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2018

See all articles by Robert Hoffmann

Robert Hoffmann

RMIT University - School of Economics, Finance and Marketing

Janneke Blijlevens

RMIT University - School of Economics, Finance and Marketing

Swee‐Hoon Chuah

RMIT University

Ananta Neelim

RMIT University - School of Economics, Finance and Marketing

Jo Laban Peryman

Behavioural Business Lab, RMIT University

Date Written: August 24, 2018

Abstract

Ethics review boards scrutinise the recruitment of students as “over-researched” study participants. This challenges economists conducting standard university lab experiments. We discuss the potential ethical risks of economic experiments for student participants and identify potential design countermeasures to alleviate such concerns. We test these experimentally and find support for some (debriefings, informed consent procedures, educational relevance, non-teacher experimenters) but not others (opt-in, recruitment databases, private payment delivery, experiments outside class time and flat rewards). Moreover, there are gender differences in participants’ perceptions of the countermeasures. The paper is intended to inform experimental economists who want to (1) design experiments and protocols to reduce ethical risks without sacrificing scientific integrityand (2) develop arguments for their design choices in ethical review processes. We call for and inform an experimental economics ethics code to address the growing awareness and governance of experimental ethics issues.

Keywords: Human participant research, students, research ethics, informed consent, experiment

JEL Classification: A20, C90

Suggested Citation

Hoffmann, Robert and Blijlevens, Janneke and Chuah, Swee‐Hoon and Neelim, Ananta and Laban Peryman, Jo, The Ethics of Student Participation in Economic Experiments: Arguments and Evidence (August 24, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3237911 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3237911

Robert Hoffmann (Contact Author)

RMIT University - School of Economics, Finance and Marketing ( email )

Level 12, 239 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Australia

Janneke Blijlevens

RMIT University - School of Economics, Finance and Marketing ( email )

Level 12, 239 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Australia

Swee‐Hoon Chuah

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

Ananta Neelim

RMIT University - School of Economics, Finance and Marketing ( email )

Level 12, 239 Bourke Street
Melbourne, Victoria 3000
Australia

Jo Laban Peryman

Behavioural Business Lab, RMIT University ( email )

445 Swanston Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

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