ICES Brown Bag for November 21

Events, Seminars | November 11, 2019

Join us for the ICES Brown Bag Lecture of the Fall 2019 semester, featuring Gary Charness.

Mr. Charness, of University of California Santa Barbara, will discuss his paper What is Deception in Experimental Economics? A Survey (Abstract). The talk will take place on Thursday, November 21st, 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.


It is almost a religion in experimental economics that deception is bad. But precisely what constitutes deception is unclear. This issue is a thorny one and is a major methodological concern for experiments both in the lab and in the field. While there is a consensus view that deliberate and explicit lies are not permitted, there are quite a few “gray areas” with respect to practices that omit information or are misleading without an explicit lie being told. In this paper, we report the results of a large (788 respondents) survey of experimental economists concerning various specific gray areas. First, perhaps surprisingly, we find that there is a great degree of heterogeneity in the responses. Second, there is considerable difference in opinions across our seven specific scenarios; in particular, the data indicate a perception that costs and benefits matter, so that such practices might in fact be appropriate when the topic is important and there is no other way to gather data. We also survey former undergraduate students (126 respondents) who had participated in experiments, again finding considerable heterogeneity in views. Compared to researchers, students have different attitudes about deceptive methods in the specific scenarios and are apparently mostly only bothered by such practices when this affects their pay. A real surprise is that few students express awareness of the no-deception policy at their former schools.

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