Haruvy’s Experimental Philosophy
My experimental philosophy is a hybrid of the different views held by my mentors and co-authors in the field regarding how experiments should be run and what experiments should accomplish. My resulting view of experiments can be summarized as follows.
1. Pay attention to detail. I was taught to spend a great deal of time and attention on the mechanics of experiments. That means agonizing over every word in the instructions, making sure subjects understand what is expected of them (pilots, quizzes, questionnaire), trying different monetary incentives, including binary lotteries and other incentive schemes to minimize wealth effect and portfolio building (see various works by Stahl, including working papers), trying different matching protocols to minimize contagion effects (again, Stahl).
2. Replicability. Replicability is necessary in experiments. Otherwise, each study is a stand alone and there is no progression from one study to the next. Replicability means writing instructions in the simplest language possible and giving subjects many repetitions to learn. It also means focusing on a set of problems that can be replicated. In general, the more complex an experiment is, the less likely it is to be easily replicated. Lastly, sharing datasets and programs with other researchers is part of replicability as well.
3. Generality. Generality means that studying one game and fitting it econometrically may be counterproductive. It may be a lot more scientifically relevant to have a model that does not fit well for any one game but does well predicting new games in advance. After all, we are in the business of making predictions.
4. Usefulness. To make ourselves useful we must study economically relevant problems. This means identifying real world issues and designing experiments that might provide answers.