nep-exp New Economics Papers
on Experimental Economics
Issue of 2015‒09‒05
seventeen papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. Experimental Evidence on Gender Interaction in Lying Behavior By Seeun Jung; Radu Vranceanu
  2. Where Do Social Preferences Come From? By Chaning Jang; John Lynham
  3. Measuring the Measurement Error: A Method to Qualitatively Validate Survey Data By Christopher Blattman; Julian C. Jamison; Tricia Koroknay-Palicz; Katherine Rodrigues; Margaret Sheridan
  4. Be patient when measuring Hyperbolic Discounting: Stationarity, Time Consistency and Time Invariance in a Field Experiment By Wendy Janssens; Berber Kramer; Lisette Swart
  5. On the External Validity of Laboratory Tax Compliance Experiments By James Alm; Kim M. Bloomquist; Michael McKee
  6. Experimental Evidence on Gender Interaction in Lying Behavior By Jung, Seeun; Vranceanu, Radu
  7. Creating Birds of Similar Feathers By Gehlbach, Hunter; Brinkworth, Maureen E.; King, Aaron M.; Hsu, Laura M.; McIntyre, Joe; Rogers, Todd
  8. Team incentives and performance: Evidence from a retail chain By Friebel, Guido; Heinz, Matthias; Krüger, Miriam; Zubanov, Nick
  9. First-Place Loving and Last-Place Loathing: How Rank in the Distribution of Performance Affects Effort Provision By Gill, David; Kissová, Zdenka; Lee, Jaesun; Prowse, Victoria L.
  10. Does Encouragement Matter in Improving Gender Imbalances in Technical Fields? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial By Unkovic, Cait; Sen, Maya; Quinn, Kevin M.
  11. The Power of Transparency: Information, Identification Cards, and Food Subsidy Programs in Indonesia By Banerjee, Abhijit; Hanna, Rema; Kyle, Jordan C.; Olken, Benjamin A.; Sumarto, Sudarno
  12. Exact P-Values for Network Interference By Athey, Susan; Eckles, Dean; Imbens, Guido W.
  13. Communication and coordination: Experimental evidence from farmer groups in Senegal: By Aflahagah, Fo Kodjo Dzinyefa; Bernard, Tanguy; Viceisza, Angelino
  14. The Underutilized Potential of Teacher-to-Parent Communication: Evidence from a Field Experiment By Kraft, Matthew A.; Rogers, Todd
  15. Personalities and Public Sector Performance: Evidence from a Health Experiment in Pakistan By Callen, Michael; Gulzar, Saad; Hasanain, Ali; Khan, Yasir; Rezaee, Arman
  16. Conflicted Emotions Following Trust-based Interaction By Schniter, Eric; Sheremeta, Roman; Shields, Timothy
  17. Friendship at Work: Can Peer Effects Catalyze Female Entrepreneurship? By Field, Erica; Jayachandran, Seema; Pande, Rohini; Rigol, Natalia

  1. By: Seeun Jung (ESSEC Business School - Essec Business School, Thema, Université de Cergy-Pontoise - THEMA - Théorie économique, modélisation et applications - Université de Cergy Pontoise - CNRS); Radu Vranceanu (Thema, Université de Cergy-Pontoise - THEMA - Théorie économique, modélisation et applications - Université de Cergy Pontoise - CNRS, ESSEC - ESSEC Business School - Essec Business School - Economics Department - Essec Business School)
    Abstract: The paper reports results from an Ultimatum Game experiment with asymmetric information where Proposers can send to Responders misleading information about their endowment. We allow for all possible gender combinations in the Proposer-Responder pairs. Proposer messages that underestimate the actual amount are quite widespread. The frequency of lying is slightly higher in mixed groups. Conditional on lying, men tend to state bigger lies than women. On the other hand, women tend to tell smaller lies when paired with men, than when paired with women. In general, women present higher acceptance rates than men.
    Date: 2015–07
  2. By: Chaning Jang (Princeton University, Department of Psychology); John Lynham (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: Where do preferences for fairness come from? We use a unique field setting to test for a spillover of sharing norms from the workplace to a laboratory experiment. Fishermen working in teams receive random income shocks (catching fish) that they must regularly divide among themselves. We demonstrate a clear correlation between sharing norms in the field and sharing norms in the lab. Furthermore, the spillover effect is stronger for fishermen who have been exposed to a sharing norm for longer, suggesting that our findings are not driven by selection effects. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that work environments shape social preferences.
    JEL: Q2 C9 C7 B4 D1
    Date: 2015–08
  3. By: Christopher Blattman; Julian C. Jamison; Tricia Koroknay-Palicz; Katherine Rodrigues; Margaret Sheridan
    Abstract: Field experiments rely heavily on self-reported data, but subjects may misreport behaviors, especially sensitive ones such as crime. If treatment influences survey responses, it biases experimental estimates. We develop a validation technique that uses intensive qualitative work to assess survey measurement error. Subjects were assigned to receive cash, therapy, both, or neither. According to survey responses, receiving both treatments dramatically reduced crime and other sensitive behaviors. Local researchers spent several days with a random subsample of subjects following their endline surveys, building trust and seeking verbal confirmation of six behaviors: theft, drug use, homelessness, gambling, and two expenditures. This validation suggests that subjects in the control and cash only groups underreported sensitive behaviors and expenditures in the survey relative to the other treatment arms. We bound survey-based treatment effects estimates, and find the impacts of cash and therapy on crime may be larger than suggested by surveys alone.
    JEL: C81 C93 I32 K4 O1
    Date: 2015–08
  4. By: Wendy Janssens (VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands.); Berber Kramer (International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), United States); Lisette Swart (VU University Amsterdam,the Netherlands)
    Abstract: Most evidence of hyperbolic discounting is based on violations of either stationarity or time consistency as observed in choice experiments. These choice reversals may however also result from time-varying discount rates. Hyperbolic discounting is a plausible explanation for choice reversals only if violations of stationarity and time consistency overlap. Our field experiment examines the extent to which this is the case. At different points in time, the same participants allocated a future gift over sooner-smaller and later-larger rewards with varying front-end delays. We find that most violations of time consistency do not coincide with violations of stationarity. This is surprisingly similar to what an earlier experiment on stationarity, time invariance and time consistency finds using a different design among a different type of participants (Halevy, Econometrica , 2015). Random noise in decision-making alone does not explain this finding, given that we find a significant association between changes in household wealth and violations of stationarity and time consistency. We conclude that when incomes fluctuate, one can only identify hyperbolic discounting by eliciting violations of both stationarity and time consistency through a longitudinal design for the same subject pool.
    Keywords: Time preferences; present bias; temporal stability
    JEL: C93 D03 D14 D90 G02
    Date: 2015–08–14
  5. By: James Alm (Department of Economics, Tulane University); Kim M. Bloomquist (Office of Research, U.S. Internal Revenue Service); Michael McKee (Department of Economics, Appalachian State University)
    Abstract: An essential issue for laboratory experiments to inform policy debates is the "external validity" of the experimental results; that is, does behavior in the laboratory apply to behavior that occurs in the naturally occurring world? We examine this issue of external validity in the specific context of laboratory experiments on tax compliance, using two different types of evidence. We find that the behavioral patterns of subjects in the laboratory conform to that of individuals making a similar decision in naturally occurring settings. We also find that the behavioral responses of students are largely the same as non-students in identical experiments.
    Keywords: marriage, experimental methods, external validity, tax compliance
    JEL: H2 H26 C9
    Date: 2015–08
  6. By: Jung, Seeun (ESSEC Business School and THEMA); Vranceanu, Radu (ESSEC Business School and THEMA)
    Abstract: The paper reports results from an Ultimatum Game experiment with asymmetric information where Proposers can send to Responders misleading information about their endowment. We allow for all possible gender combinations in the Proposer-Responder pairs. Proposer messages that underestimate the actual amount are quite widespread. The frequency of lying is slightly higher in mixed groups. Conditional on lying, men tend to state bigger lies than women. On the other hand, women tend to tell smaller lies when paired with men, than when paired with women. In general, women present higher acceptance rates than men.
    Keywords: Gender studies; Ultimatum Game; Asymmetric information; Lies; Extensive vs. intensive margin
    JEL: C72 C91 D83 J16
    Date: 2015–08
  7. By: Gehlbach, Hunter (Harvard University); Brinkworth, Maureen E. (Harvard University); King, Aaron M. (Stanford University); Hsu, Laura M. (Merrimack College); McIntyre, Joe (Harvard University); Rogers, Todd (Harvard University)
    Abstract: When people perceive themselves as similar to others, greater liking and closer relationships typically result. In the first randomized field experiment that leverages actual similarities to improve real-world relationships, we examined the affiliations between 315 ninth grade students and their 25 teachers. Students in the treatment condition received feedback on five similarities that they shared with their teachers; each teacher received parallel feedback regarding about half of his/her ninth grade students. Five weeks after our intervention, those in the treatment conditions perceived greater similarity with their counterparts. Furthermore, when teachers received feedback about their similarities with specific students, they perceived better relationships with those students, and those students earned higher course grades. Exploratory analyses suggest that these effects are concentrated within relationships between teachers and their "underserved" students. This brief intervention appears to close the achievement gap at this school by over 60%.
    Date: 2015–04
  8. By: Friebel, Guido; Heinz, Matthias; Krüger, Miriam; Zubanov, Nick
    Abstract: We test the effectiveness of team incentives by running a natural field experiment in a retail chain of 193 shops and 1,300 employees. As a response to intensified product market competition, the firm offered a bonus to shop teams for surpassing sales targets. A bonus to teams rather than individuals was a natural choice because the firm does not measure individual performance and relies on flexible task allocation among employees. On average, the team bonus increases sales and customer visits in the treated shops by around 3%, and wages by 2.3%. The bonus is highly profitable for the firm, generating for each bonus dollar an extra $3.80 of sales, and $2.10 of operational profit. The results show the importance of complementarities within teams and suggest that improved operational efficiency is the main mechanism behind the treatment effect. Our analysis of heterogeneous treatment effects offers a number of insights about the anatomy of teamwork. The firm decided to roll out the bonus to all of its shops, and the performance of treatment and control shops converged after the roll-out.
    Keywords: insider econometrics; management practices; natural field experiment; randomized controlled trial (RCT)
    JEL: J3 L2 M5
    Date: 2015–08
  9. By: Gill, David (University of Oxford); Kissová, Zdenka (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP); Lee, Jaesun (Cornell University); Prowse, Victoria L. (Cornell University)
    Abstract: Rank-order relative-performance evaluation, in which pay, promotion and symbolic awards depend on the rank of workers in the distribution of performance, is ubiquitous. Whenever firms use rank-order relative-performance evaluation, workers receive feedback about their rank. Using a real-effort experiment, we aim to discover whether workers respond to the specific rank that they achieve. In particular, we leverage random variation in the allocation of rank among subjects who exerted the same effort to obtain a causal estimate of the rank response function that describes how effort provision responds to the content of rank-order feedback. We find that the rank response function is U-shaped. Subjects exhibit 'first-place loving' and 'last-place loathing', that is subjects increase their effort the most after being ranked first or last. We discuss implications of our findings for the optimal design of firms' performance feedback policies, workplace organizational structures and incentives schemes.
    Keywords: relative performance evaluation, relative performance feedback, rank order feedback, dynamic effort provision, real effort experiment, flat wage, fixed wage, taste for rank, status seeking, social esteem, self esteem, public feedback, private feedback
    JEL: C23 C91 J22 M12
    Date: 2015–08
  10. By: Unkovic, Cait (University of CA, Berkeley); Sen, Maya (Harvard University); Quinn, Kevin M. (University of CA, Berkeley)
    Abstract: Education policy research looking at gender imbalances in technical fields often relies on observational data or small N experimental studies. Taking a different approach, we present the results of one of the first and largest randomized controlled trials on the topic. Using the 2014 Political Methodology Annual Meeting as our context, half of a pool of 3,945 political science graduate students were randomly assigned to receive two personalized emails encouraging them to apply to the conference (n = 1,976), while the other half received nothing (n = 1,969). We find a robust, positive effect associated with this simple intervention and suggestive evidence that women respond more strongly than men. However, we find that women's conference acceptance rates are higher within the control group than in the treated group. This is not the case for men. The reason appears to be that female applicants in the treated group solicited supporting letters at lower rates. The contributions from this research are twofold. First, our findings are among the first large-scale randomized controlled interventions in higher education. Second, and less optimistically, our findings suggest that such "low dose" interventions may promote diversity in STEM fields, but that they have the potential to expose underlying disparities when used alone or in a non-targeted way.
    Date: 2015–06
  11. By: Banerjee, Abhijit (MIT); Hanna, Rema (Harvard University); Kyle, Jordan C. (Columbia University); Olken, Benjamin A. (MIT); Sumarto, Sudarno (SMERU Research Institute)
    Abstract: Can governments improve aid programs by providing information to beneficiaries? In our model, information can change how much aid citizens receive as they bargain with local officials who implement national programs. In a large-scale field experiment, we test whether mailing cards with program information to beneficiaries increases their subsidy from a subsidized rice program. Beneficiaries received 26 percent more subsidy in card villages. Ineligible households received no less, so this represents lower leakage. The evidence suggests that this effect is driven by citizen bargaining with local officials. Experimentally adding the official price to the cards increased the subsidy by 21 percent compared to cards without price information. Additional public information increased higher-order knowledge about eligibility, leading to a 16 percent increase in subsidy compared to just distributing cards. In short, increased transparency empowered citizens to reduce leakages and improve program functioning.
    Date: 2015–03
  12. By: Athey, Susan (Stanford University); Eckles, Dean (Facebook); Imbens, Guido W. (Stanford University)
    Abstract: We study the calculation of exact p-values for a large class of non-sharp null hypotheses about treatment effects in a setting with data from experiments involving members of a single connected network. The class includes null hypotheses that limit the effect of one unit's treatment status on another according to the distance between units; for example, the hypothesis might specify that the treatment status of immediate neighbors has no effect, or that units more than two edges away have no effect. We also consider hypotheses concerning the validity of sparsification of a network (for example based on the strength of ties) and hypotheses restricting heterogeneity in peer effects (so that, for example, only the number or fraction treated among neighboring units matters). Our general approach is to define an artificial experiment, such that the null hypothesis that was not sharp for the original experiment is sharp for the artificial experiment, and such that the randomization analysis for the artificial experiment is validated by the design of the original experiment.
    JEL: C14 C21 C52
    Date: 2015–06
  13. By: Aflahagah, Fo Kodjo Dzinyefa; Bernard, Tanguy; Viceisza, Angelino
    Abstract: Coordination failures are at the heart of development traps. Although communication can reduce such failures, to date experimental evidence has primarily been lab based. This paper studies the impact of communication in stag hunt coordination games played by members of Senegalese farmer groups—a setting where collective commercialization has suffered from coordination failure, as in many rural contexts. We find that communication increases coordination only in larger experimental groups, where it matters most from the standpoint of poverty traps. We also find that these effects are driven by communication’s impact on perceptions of strategic uncertainty. Some policy implications are discussed.
    Keywords: coordination, communication, cooperatives, field experimentation, development, strategic uncertainty,
    Date: 2015
  14. By: Kraft, Matthew A. (Brown University); Rogers, Todd (Harvard University)
    Abstract: Parental involvement is correlated with student performance, though the causal relationship is less well established. This experiment examined an intervention that delivered weekly one-sentence individualized messages from teachers to the parents of high school students in a credit recovery program. Messages decreased the percentage of students who failed to earn course credit from 15.8% to 9.3%--a 41% reduction. This reduction resulted primarily from preventing drop-outs, rather than from reducing failure or dismissal rates. The intervention shaped the content of parent-child conversations with messages emphasizing what students could improve, versus what students were doing well, producing the largest effects. We estimate the cost of this intervention per additional student credit earned to be less than one-tenth the typical cost per credit earned for the district. These findings underscore the value of educational policies that encourage and facilitate teacher-to-parent communication to empower parental involvement in their children's education.
    JEL: I20 I21 I24
    Date: 2015–04
  15. By: Callen, Michael (Harvard University); Gulzar, Saad (NYU); Hasanain, Ali (University College, Oxford and Lahore University of Management Sciences); Khan, Yasir (Lahore University of Management Sciences); Rezaee, Arman (University of CA, San Diego)
    Abstract: This paper provides evidence that the personality traits of policy actors matter for policy outcomes in the context of two large-scale experiments in Punjab, Pakistan. Three results support the relevance of personalities for policy outcomes. First, doctors with higher Big Five and Perry Public Sector Motivation scores attend work more and falsify inspection reports less. Second, health inspectors who score higher on these personality measures exhibit a larger treatment response to increased monitoring. Last, senior health officials with higher Big Five scores are more likely to respond to a report of an under-performing facility by compelling better subsequent staff attendance.
    Date: 2015–05
  16. By: Schniter, Eric; Sheremeta, Roman; Shields, Timothy
    Abstract: We observed reports of conflicted (concurrent positive and negative) emotions activated after interactions in the Trust game. Our analyses reveal that activation of 20 emotional states following trust-based interaction is better explained by predictions derived from a multi-dimensional Recalibrational perspective than by predictions derived from two-dimensional Valence and Arousal perspectives. The Recalibrational perspective proposes that emotions are activated according to their functional features – for example, emotions help people achieve short or long-sighted goals by up or down-regulating behavioral propensities, whereas Valence and Arousal perspectives consider simpler hedonic dimensions lacking functional specificity. The Recalibrational perspective is also distinguished from the Valence and Arousal perspectives in that it predicts the possibility of conflicted emotions. We discuss the theoretical implications of having conflicted goals and the economic implications of having conflicted emotions.
    Keywords: emotion, affect valence, Recalibrational theory, intrapsychic conflict, Trust game
    JEL: C73 C91 D87
    Date: 2015–08–17
  17. By: Field, Erica (Duke University); Jayachandran, Seema (Northwestern University); Pande, Rohini (Harvard University); Rigol, Natalia (MIT)
    Abstract: Does the lack of peers contribute to the observed gender gap in entrepreneurial success, and is the constraint stronger for women facing more restrictive social norms? We offered two days of business counseling to a random sample of customers of India's largest women's bank. A random sub-sample was invited to attend with a friend. The intervention had a significant immediate impact on participants' business activity, but only if they were trained in the presence of a friend. Four months later, those trained with a friend were more likely to have taken out business loans, were less likely to be housewives, and reported increased business activity and higher household income. The positive impacts of training with a friend were stronger among women from religious or caste groups with social norms that restrict female mobility.
    Date: 2015–04

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