This setting lets you change the way you view articles. You can choose to have articles open in a dialog window, a new tab, or directly in the same window.
Open in Dialog
Open in New Tab
Open in same window

Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 21 No. 2 (Spring 2007)

Expand

Quick Tools:

Print Article Summary
Export Citation
Sign up for Email Alerts Follow us on Twitter

Explore:

JEP - All Issues


What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?

Article Citation

Levitt, Steven D., and John A. List. 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(2): 153-174.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.21.2.153

Abstract

A critical question facing experimental economists is whether behavior inside the laboratory is a good indicator of behavior outside the laboratory. To address that question, we build a model in which the choices that individuals make depend not just on financial implications, but also on the nature and extent of scrutiny by others, the particular context in which a decision is embedded, and the manner in which participants and tasks are selected. We present empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of these various factors. To the extent that lab and naturally occurring environments systematically differ on any of these dimensions, the results obtained inside and outside the lab need not correspond. Focusing on experiments designed to measure social preferences, we discuss the extent to which the existing laboratory results generalize to naturally-occurring markets. We summarize cases where the lab may understate the importance of social preferences as well as instances in which the lab might exaggerate their importance. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of interpreting laboratory and field data through the lens of theory.

Article Full-Text Access

Full-text Article (Complimentary)

Authors

Levitt, Steven D.
List, John A.

Comments

View Comments on This Article (0) | Login to post a comment


Journal of Economic Perspectives


Quick Tools:

Sign up for Email Alerts

Follow us on Twitter

Subscription Information
(Institutional Administrator Access)

Explore:

JEP - All Issues

Virtual Field Journals


AEA Member Login:


AEAweb | AEA Journals | Contact Us