Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics

CeDEx 2012-14: Self-Selection and Variations in the Laboratory Measurement of Other-Regarding Preferences across Subject Pools: Evidence from One College Student and Two Adult Samples


We measure the other-regarding behavior in samples from three related populations in the upper Midwest of the United States: college students, non-student adults from the community surrounding the college, and adult trainee truckers in a residential training program. The use of typical experimental economics recruitment procedures made the first two groups substantially self-selected. Because the context reduced the opportunity cost of participating dramatically, 91% of the adult trainees solicited participated, leaving little scope for self-selection in this sample. We find no differences in the elicited other-regarding preferences between the self-selected adults and the adult trainees, suggesting that selection is unlikely to bias inferences about the prevalence of other-regarding preferences among non-student adult subjects. Our data also reject the more specific hypothesis that approval-seeking subjects are the ones most likely to select into experiments. Finally, we observe a large difference between self-selected college students and self-selected adults: the students appear considerably less pro-social.

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Now published in Experimental Economics 16(2): 170-189


Jon Anderson, Stephen V Burks, Jeffrey Carpenter, Lorenz Götte, Karsten Maurer, Daniele Nosenzo, Ruth Rocha and Aldo Rustichini


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Posted on Tuesday 1st May 2012

Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics

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