Incentives, Search Engines, and the Elicitation of Subjective Beliefs: Evidence from Representative Online Survey Experiments

51 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2019

See all articles by Elisabeth Grewenig

Elisabeth Grewenig

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Philipp Lergetporer

University of Innsbruck

Katharina Werner

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Beata Smarzynska Javorcik

University of Oxford - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

A large literature studies subjective beliefs about economic facts using unincentivized survey questions. We devise randomized experiments in a representative online survey to investigate whether incentivizing belief accuracy affects stated beliefs about average earnings by professional degree and average public school spending. Incentive provision does not impact earnings beliefs, but improves school-spending beliefs. Response patterns suggest that the latter effect likely reflects increased online-search activity. Consistently, an experiment that just encourages search-engine usage produces very similar results. Another experiment provides no evidence of experimenter-demand effects. Overall, results suggest that incentive provision does not reduce bias in our survey-based belief measures.

Keywords: beliefs, incentives, online search, survey experiment

JEL Classification: D830, C830, C900

Suggested Citation

Grewenig, Elisabeth and Lergetporer, Philipp and Werner, Katharina and Smarzynska Javorcik, Beata, Incentives, Search Engines, and the Elicitation of Subjective Beliefs: Evidence from Representative Online Survey Experiments (2019). CESifo Working Paper No. 7556. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3357133

Elisabeth Grewenig (Contact Author)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Philipp Lergetporer

University of Innsbruck ( email )

Universit├Ątsstra├če 15
Innsbruck, 6020
Austria

Katharina Werner

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Beata Smarzynska Javorcik

University of Oxford - Department of Economics ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3BJ
United Kingdom

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