The Ethics of Student Participation in Economic Experiments: Arguments and Evidence
26 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2018
Date Written: August 24, 2018
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: Suggested Citation