Critical Condition: People Only Object to Corporate Experiments If They Object to a Condition

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See all articles by Robert Mislavsky

Robert Mislavsky

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

Berkeley Dietvorst

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Uri Simonsohn

Ramon Llull University - ESADE Business School

Date Written: November 20, 2018

Abstract

Why have companies faced a backlash for running experiments? Academics and pundits have argued people find corporate experimentation intrinsically objectionable. Here we investigate “experiment aversion,” finding evidence that, if anything, experiments are more acceptable than the worst policies they contain. In six studies participants evaluated the acceptability of either corporate policy changes or of experiments testing them. When all policy changes were deemed acceptable, so was the experiment, even when it involved deception, unequal outcomes, and lack of consent. When a policy change was deemed unacceptable, so was the experiment, but less so. The acceptability of an experiment hinges on its critical condition—its least acceptable policy. Experiments are not unpopular, unpopular policies are unpopular.

Keywords: field experiments, public opinion, market research, business ethics

Suggested Citation

Mislavsky, Robert and Dietvorst, Berkeley and Simonsohn, Uri, Critical Condition: People Only Object to Corporate Experiments If They Object to a Condition (November 20, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Robert Mislavsky (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Berkeley Dietvorst

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Uri Simonsohn

Ramon Llull University - ESADE Business School ( email )

Avinguda de la Torre Blanca, 59
Sant Cugat del Vallès, 08172
Spain

HOME PAGE: http://urisohn.com

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