Instructions

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Faculty/Staff
Final version published as: 

Freeman, D., E. Kimbrough, G. Petersen, and H. Tong. 2018. Instructions. Journal of the Economic Science Association, 4: 165–179. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40881-018-0059-0

Date created: 
2018-11-07
Identifier: 
DOI: 10.1007/s40881-018-0059-0
Keywords: 
Attention
Comprehension
Instructions
Abstract: 

A survey of instruction delivery and reinforcement methods in recent laboratory experiments reveals a wide and inconsistently reported variety of practices and limited research evaluating their effectiveness. Thus, we experimentally compare how methods of delivering and reinforcing experiment instructions impact subjects’ comprehension and retention of payoff-relevant information. We report a one-shot individual decision task in which non-money-maximizing behavior can be unambiguously identified and find that such behavior is prevalent in our baseline treatment which uses plain, but relatively standard experimental instructions. We find combinations of reinforcement methods that can eliminate half of non-money-maximizing behavior, and we find that we can induce a similar reduction via enhancements to the content of instructions. Residual non-money-maximizing behavior suggests that this may be an important source of noise in experimental studies.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
Rights: 
Copyright is held by the authors.
File(s): 
Sponsor(s): 
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
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