Quantitative Economics, Volume 12, Issue 1 (January 2021)
Controlling for presentation effects in choice
Experimenters make theoretically irrelevant decisions concerning user interfaces and ordering or labeling of options. Reanalyzing dictator games, I first show that such decisions may drastically affect comparative statics and cause results to appear contradictory across experiments. This obstructs model testing, preference analyses, and policy predictions. I then propose a simple model of choice incorporating both presentation effects and stochastic errors, and test the model by reanalyzing the dictator game experiments. Controlling for presentation effects, preference estimates become consistent across experiments and predictive out‐of‐sample. This highlights both the necessity and the possibility to control for presentation in economic experiments.
Presentation effects utility estimation counterfactual predictions laboratory experiment C10 C90
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