ICES Brown Bag for April 4

Events, Seminars | March 28, 2019

Join us for the ICES Brown Bag Lecture of the Spring 2019 semester, featuring Luigi Butera.

Dr. Butera, of Copenhagen Business School, will discuss his paper (co-authored with Philip Grossman, Daniel Houser, John A. List, Marie Claire Villeval) An Economic Approach to Alleviate the Crises of Confidence in Science: With An Application to the Public Goods Game (Abstract). The talk will take place on Thursday, April 4th, from 12:00 to 1:00pm, in room 5075 of the Vernon Smith Hall, Arlington campus.

Coffee and dessert will be provided.

Please visit the Brown Bag Schedule to learn more about the Brown Bag series.


The mechanics of statistical inference suggest that surprising novel empirical insights should not appreciably move priors about a phenomenon under investigation, even when statistically significant within the study. A few independent replications dramatically improve reliability, but incentives to replicate are rarely in place within the social sciences. This paper proposes a novel mechanism that promotes replications by leveraging mutually beneficial gains from trade between scholars, and uses experimental economics to highlight the approach. Our mechanism is simple: upon completion of a study finding surprising and significant results, the authors make the working paper available online, but commit never to submit it to a journal for publication. Instead, they offer co-authorship for a second, yet to be written, paper to scholars willing to independently replicate the study. The second paper references the original working paper, includes all pre- registered replications, and it is submitted to a peer- reviewed journal for publication. We apply our method to an investigation of the effects of Knightian uncertainty (ambiguity) on cooperation in allocation games, a pervasive and yet largely unexplored feature of most public goods. The original, voluntarily unpublished study (Butera and List 2017) unexpectedly found that ambiguity about the value of a public good facilitates cooperation. We report results from the original study and three independent replications, and show that while ambiguity has a positive effect in two replications for low-quality public goods, overall the original results do not pass a conservative replication test. We conclude that Knightian uncertainty has a limited impact on cooperation, corroborating the existing approach of focusing on strategic uncertainty to study public goods.

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