Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 3, 2007

Field Experiments: A Bridge between Lab and Naturally Occurring Data

John A. List

Laboratory experiments have been used extensively in economics in the past several decades to lend both positive and normative insights into a myriad of important economic issues. This study discusses a related approach that has increasingly grown in prominence of late—field experiments. I argue that field experiments serve as a useful bridge between data generated in the lab and empirical studies using naturally-occurring data. In discussing this relationship, I highlight that field experiments can yield important insights into economic theory and provide useful guidance to policymakers. I also draw attention to an important methodological contribution of field experiments: they provide an empirical account of behavioral principles that are shared across different domains. In this regard, at odds with conventional wisdom, I argue that representativeness of the environment, rather than representative of the sampled population, is the most crucial variable in determining generalizability of results for a large class of experimental laboratory games.

Published Online: 2007-4-3

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