Behavioral economic experiments involve real people who make serious choices. Through their efforts, participants stand to make substantial amounts of money. Economists adhere to the following methodological guidelines:
- Invite participants to play economic games voluntarily.
- Guarantee show-up fee ($5).
- Incentivize participants with real monetary payoffs.
- Do not use deception.
- Decisions are anonymous.
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Background: Behavioral Economics has developed into one of the most productive and empirically relevant research fields in Economics since the mid-1990s. Experimental methods can be applied to analyze and validate theories in all fields of economics and beyond. The experimental method also lends itself to interdisciplinary work between economics and, among others, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists, biologists and mathematicians. When the Swedish Nobel Committee awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences to Vernon Smith, an economist at George Mason University, it simply affirmed what economists have long known: that experimental economics has arrived as a respected and powerful discipline within economics. The committee noted that the award was based on Smith’s “having established laboratory experiments as a tool in empirical economic analysis, especially in the study of alternative market mechanisms.”