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

51 Pages Posted: 21 May 2019

See all articles by Elisabeth Grewenig

Elisabeth Grewenig

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

Philipp Lergetporer

ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research

Katharina Werner

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

Ludger Woessmann

Ifo Institute for Economic Research; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research

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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: D83, C83, C90

Suggested Citation

Grewenig, Elisabeth and Lergetporer, Philipp and Werner, Katharina and Woessmann, Ludger, Incentives, Search Engines, and the Elicitation of Subjective Beliefs: Evidence from Representative Online Survey Experiments. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12217. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3390206

Elisabeth Grewenig

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

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Philipp Lergetporer

ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Dresden Branch
Einsteinstra├če 3
Dresden, 01069
Germany

Katharina Werner

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

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Ludger Woessmann (Contact Author)

Ifo Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Poschingerstr. 5
Munich
Germany
++49 89 9224 1699 (Phone)
++49 89 9224 1460 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cesifo.de/link/woessmann_l.htm

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

University of Munich - Ifo Institute for Economic Research

Schackstr. 4
Munich, 80539
Germany

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