Viewpoint: On the Generalizability of Lab Behaviour to the Field

24 Pages Posted: 19 May 2007

See all articles by Steven D. Levitt

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business - Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

We can think of no question more fundamental to experimental economics than understanding whether, and under what circumstances, laboratory results generalize to naturally occurring environments. In this paper, we extend Levitt and List (2006) to the class of games in which financial payoffs and 'doing the right thing' are not necessarily in conflict. We argue that behaviour is crucially linked to not only the preferences of people, but also the properties of the situation. By doing so, we are able to provide a road map of the psychological and economic properties of people and situations that might interfere with generalizability of laboratory result from a broad class of games.

Suggested Citation

Levitt, Steven D. and List, John A., Viewpoint: On the Generalizability of Lab Behaviour to the Field. Canadian Journal of Economics, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 347-370, May 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=986752 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.00412.x

Steven D. Levitt (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business - Economics ( email )

Graduate School of Business
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Chicago, IL 60637
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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