Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2019:18: Selection into Experiments: Evidence from a Population of Students

Jonathan Schulz (), Uwe Sunde (), Petra Thiemann () and Christian Thöni ()
Additional contact information
Jonathan Schulz: Department of Economics, George Mason University, Postal: 4400 University Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
Uwe Sunde: Department of Economics, University of Munich, Postal: Schackstr. 4, D-80539 Munich, Germany
Petra Thiemann: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Christian Thöni: Quartier UNIL-Dorigni, University of Lausanne, Postal: Batiment Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract: This study investigates the selection into lab experiments among university students based on data from two cohorts of a university’s first-year students. The analysis combines two experiments: a classroom experiment in which we elicited measures for risk, time, social preferences, confidence, and cognitive skills using standard measures from the experimental literature; and a recruitment experiment that varied information provided in a typical e-mail recruitment procedure for lab participants. In the recruitment experiment, students were randomly assigned to four conditions that highlighted altruistic motives or financial incentives. We find significant treatment effects: mentioning financial incentives boosts the participation rate in lab experiments by 50 percent. In terms of selection, we find that more selfish individuals and individuals with higher cognitive reflection scores are more likely to participate in experiments, but we find little evidence for selection along risk preferences, time preferences, and overconfidence. Although the recruitment conditions affect participation rates, they do not alter the composition of the participant sample in terms of behavioral measures and cognitive skills.

Keywords: Keywords: classroom experiment; selection; recruitment; preferences; cognitive abilities

JEL-codes: C93; D64; H41; L30

46 pages, November 27, 2019

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