Cross-Cultural Behavioral Experiments: Potential and Challenges

24 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2018 Last revised: 24 Mar 2019

Date Written: March 20, 2019


Experimental economics offers useful tools for cross-cultural research. Experimental games are well-defined environments characterized by a set of players, strategies and incentives. Conducting identical experiments with subjects from different cultures offers unprecedented control over the environment in which behavior is observed. Nevertheless, cross-cultural experimentation poses a number of methodological challenges, because culture cannot be randomly assigned to participants. This chapter provides an outline of how experimental games may be used to measure culture, followed by a review and discussion of the methods used in cross-cultural behavioral experiments. The chapter surveys the literature on cross-cultural experiments and offers a reanalysis of cross-cultural data sets to quantify the importance of cultural variation relative to subject pool variation.

Keywords: experiment, culture, methodology, behavior

JEL Classification: C91, D01, D9

Suggested Citation

Thöni, Christian, Cross-Cultural Behavioral Experiments: Potential and Challenges (March 20, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Christian Thöni (Contact Author)

University of Lausanne ( email )

Quartier Chambronne
Lausanne, Vaud CH-1015

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