Experimental methodology and its applications in economics

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Lab experiments
Deliberative voting
Mobility as a service

This dissertation explores and applies experimental methods in economics. The first two chapters deal with the methodology of lab experiments, while the third presents a study on mobility apps. In the first chapter, I examine deliberating groups in a jury-like setting where subjects have private information and an opportunity to discuss it before a vote. The study uses a belief elicitation mechanism to incentivize subjects to truthfully report their beliefs both before and after they deliberate, allowing for the measurement of the change in beliefs. I find that deliberation tends to reduce the average error in beliefs, measured as the difference between the belief and the true outcome. The basic experiment follows past deliberation experiments in the literature. It features an abstract setting with private signals in the form of a randomly drawn red or blue ball. To test whether the results are generalizable, I replicated this experiment in a framed setting where subjects read the evidence from a real murder trial. I found no difference between the results of the experiments in these two different settings. The second chapter investigates the use of reinforcement methods in lab experiment instructions. We experimentally compare how methods of delivering and reinforcing experiment instructions impact subjects' comprehension and retention of payoff-relevant information. We find combinations of reinforcement methods that can eliminate half of non money-maximizing behaviour, and we find that we can induce a similar reduction via enhancements to the content of instructions. Residual non money-maximizing behaviour suggests this may be an important source of noise in experimental studies. The third chapter diverges from lab experiments to study Mobility as a Service (MaaS). We test whether a multimodal route-planning service caused users to use combined routes featuring both ride hailing and transit. We find that ride-hailing trips connected with rail stops increased from 3.0% of trips to 5.5% among existing users. In areas where the feature supported bus connections, trips connecting to bus stops increased from 4.6% to 8.7% among existing users.

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David Freeman
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Economics
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.