Behavioral & Experimental Economics Laboratory

FAQs

What are these experiments about?

Actually we do not want to be too specific about the setup and the goals of our experiments, as this could create biases in the data we collect. In general we test economic and psychological theories of behavior in markets, bargaining, dilemma situations, risk taking, etc. As a subject you should not care so much about our motives for collecting the data. You should rather make decisions which you deem to be good decisions.

At the beginning of an experiment you receive precise instructions with all the necessary information. You can be sure of the following:

  • There is no deception in the instructions! You can trust the rules which you receive from the experimenters. Also your compensation will be made as announced in the beginning of each experiment.
  • In general your decision data is stored anonymously. You will be explicitly and clearly notified beforehand if this is not the case.

How much money do you pay?

There is no general rule for payoffs, but in order to give you some clues:

  • Payoff rules vary from experiment to experiment (the rules are determined by the corresponding experimenters).
  • We advise experimenters to pay an average between 10 and 15 Euro per hour. Note that this is an average. This means that for individuals it could be less or more.
  • Your personal payoff depends on your decisions during the experiment. Most often it also depends on what other participants decide and sometimes there is also a random factor involved.
  • Many (not all) experiments involve a so-called show-up premium. This means that you get a certain amount of money already for being in time and for participating. On top of that you can earn more money with your decisions.
  • We are planning to run experiments regularly. Thus, we will pay sufficient amounts in order to keep a sufficient number of interested participants.
  • In most cases we will pay you in cash right after the experiment. In cases where we need to calculate results and payoffs first, you will be able to pick up your payoffs at the secretaries’ office. Sometimes we also use bank transfers.

Are the experiments only for UM students? Are other persons also eligible?

In the past we only addressed UM (Maastricht University) students. We are currently trying to extend our database to other institutions (e.g. Hogeschool Zuyd). If you do not belong to a university or hogeschool, please contact the lab coordinators and ask whether you are eligible.

I was put in an unfair position and did not earn much money? Is this normal?

99.9% of all strategic situations are asymmetric, maybe even more. Asymmetries result from different information, different power levels, different strategic possibilities, and so on. Think for example of a relationship between a seller and a buyer or of a relationship between employer and employee. Consequently we are interested in asymmetric settings and it can be that participants receive rather unequal amounts of money. In such cases we normally assign the roles of the participants in a random manner (e.g. by drawing cards). This is the maximum fairness we can achieve, given our research interests.

Can I lose money in those experiments?

In principle the answer is “yes”. However, this is an unlikely event. In general our experiments are designed in a way to let participants make profits (sometimes less, sometimes more). In experiments where participants can make losses we pay a show-up premium that is high enough to cover the likely losses. However if you lose more than covered by your show-up premium (by very stupid or very risky decisions), we expect you to cover the rest out of your own pocket.

Having said this, please note that we are not interested in engaging in debates with participants about losses. Therefore we avoid these situations whenever we can. We have no incentives to spoil our reputation, because we depend on you coming back for more experiments.

What kind of pre-knowledge do I need?

For most experiments participants do not need to have any pre-knowledge. Common sense and a good command of the English language are sufficient. For those experiments where pre-knowledge is needed we select participants according to their study programme.

How long does such an experiment take?

The time for an experiment varies. Up to now we have had experiments with durations from 20 minutes until 3 hours. Sometimes an experiment consists of multiple sessions in the laboratory (for example a training session in one week and a real experiment in the next). In any case you will be informed about duration etc. before you register for a specific experiment.