Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2014:20: Experience in Public Goods Experiments

Anna Conte (), Vittoria Levati () and Natalia Montinari ()
Additional contact information
Anna Conte: Max Planck Institute of Economics, Postal: Max Planck Institute of Economics, , Kahlaische Str. 10, , 07745 Jena, , Germany
Vittoria Levati: University of Verona, Department of Economics, Postal: University of Verona, , Department of Economics, , Via dell'Artigliere 19, , 37129 Verona, , Italy
Natalia Montinari: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: We use information on students' past participation in economic experiments, as stored in our database, to analyze whether behavior in public goods games is affected by experience (i.e., previous participation in social dilemma-type experiments) and history (i.e., participation in experiments of a different class than the social dilemma). We have three main results. First, at the aggregate level, the amount subjects contribute and expect others to contribute decrease with experience. Second, a mixture model reveals that the proportion of unconditional cooperators decreases with experience, while that of selfish individuals increases. Finally, history also influences behavior, although to a lesser extent than experience. Our findings have important methodological implications for researchers, who are urged to control for subjects' experience and history in their experiments if they want to improve the external validity and replicability of their results.

Keywords: Public goods experiments; Social preferences; Mixture models; Experience; History

JEL-codes: C35; C51; C72; H41

33 pages, May 18, 2014

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