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Field Experiments in Economics

ISBN: 978-0-76231-174-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-324-2

Publication date: 23 May 2005


The results of standard lab experiments have long been questioned because of the convenience samples of subjects they typically employ and the abstract nature of the lab settings. These two characteristics of experimental economics, it is argued, are the key factors that endanger the external validity of experiments.

Researchers have tried to address these issues by bringing the lab to non-traditional subjects including participants in remote locations, and/or by moving the setting of experiments closer to reality by using real goods and/or settings that are not stripped of context.

While field experiments might help experimental economists to increase the external validity of their investigations, these potential benefits might come at costs that can be considerable. Specifically, going into the field can dramatically increase the demands on, and challenges to, experimental control. This is particularly true for experiments in small-scale societies in remote locations on which I focus in this article.


Ortmann, A. (2005), "FIELD EXPERIMENTS IN ECONOMICS: SOME METHODOLOGICAL CAVEATS", Harrison, G.W., Carpenter, J. and List, J.A. (Ed.) Field Experiments in Economics (Research in Experimental Economics, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 51-70.



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