Q: What is an experiment?

A: Economic experiments provide researchers a unique opportunity to study participants in a laboratory setting which controls for other outside factors. This allows us to test hypotheses, especially those that concern the validity of economic theories.

For the participant, economics experiments are a lot like playing a game. Some of the games are computerized, and others are done with pencil and paper. They are a way for participants to earn cash and help science in a friendly, non threatening atmosphere. Not only will you help science by giving us data to analyze for our studies but you also have the opportunity to earn cash.

Q: How do I register to receive invitations to experiments?

A: To register your name in our database, please visit our registration page.

Registering does not obligate you to participate in an experiment. It just means that you would like to receive an email when we have an experiment available for you to participate in. Then if you are interested, you can follow the link in the invitation email to sign up.

Q: How do I sign up to participate in an experiment?

A: You will receive invitations by email to participate in experiments. To sign up, you should click on the link in the invitation email. Then, you may select a session time that you will be available to participate in. Please remember that participation is by email invitation only. TAMU email inboxes that are “over quota” will bounce emails. Be sure your inbox has sufficient space is you wish to receive all experiment invitations sent to you.

Q: Where is the lab located?

A: We are located in 3072 Robert H. and Judy Ley Allen Building. The Allen Building can be found on this Campus Map.

Q: How much will I get paid for my participation?

A: How much you make is determined by: the type of experiment and the decisions you and others make. Since we don’t know what your decisions will be, we can not specify the exact amount of money you will make. But, we know you are busy students and design our studies to compensate you for your time (this is why many of our experiments include a payment for participation). Over 50% of subjects make more than $25 and over 20% of subjects make more than $30.

Q: How long do experiments last?

A: Experiments vary in subject matter, format and time. Some last for as long as 2 hours and others can go for only 30 minutes. Before you sign up for an experiment you will know its start and end times and thus how long it is estimated to last. We try to err on the side of over-estimating how long an experiment will last to insure you can plan to definitely be out by the end time.

Q: Do I need to show up on time? Can I come at anytime in the time period?

A: Yes, it is very important that you arrive on time and be prepared to stay through the end of the experiment. Many experiments require a certain number of participants and cannot run without enough people participating.

Q: What can I expect to do in an experiment?

A: Economics experiments usually involve a game and a survey. Sometimes you will fill out decision sheets by hand, and sometimes you will play on the computer. Sometimes you interact with others and sometimes you play by yourself. Before you play you will know the structure and rules of the game and how you can make money. You will also know how your decisions interact with others in the room to make one or both of you money. The survey collects additional information about you and your thoughts and opinions.

Sometimes economics experiments have been compared to psychology experiments. They are very similar except for two crucial details: we are not allowed to deceive you in any way, and we always pay people based upon decisions they make throughout the session.

Q: How often can I participate?

A: Most experiments you can only participate in once. There are also some experiments which have special requirements (participation in other experiments, classification, age, gender, a class taken, etc.). The computer sign-up system will not let you sign up for an experiment you are not eligible for (if you have already participated, you are signed up to participate in another session, or do not meet qualifying requirements).

If you have questions about signing up for an experiment, please email us at erl@econmail.tamu.edu.

Q: How am I protected in an experiment?

A: In order to run any experiment we must have Internal Review Board (IRB) approval. This is a committee made up of members from many disciplines. They review our plans and procedures and approve a project before you participate in it. This is to insure you are never placed in a situation in which you could be harmed.

Note also that even if you register in our database, you are under no obligation to participate in these experiments. Volunteering to participate will in no way affect your grade or status in any past, current or future class. You can ask to be removed from the database at any time.

Q: How is my private information protected?

A: In addition any information you give us is kept in strict confidence. Most of the time decisions you make and how you do is recorded by an experimenter-generated ID number (NOT your student ID) and we never link it back to a particular individual. Your participation is completely safe.

Q: Do I have to show up when I am invited to an experiment?

A: When you are invited for an experiment you can only participate in case you explicitly confirmed your participation. Confirmation is done by clicking on a link provided in the invitation email and picking one out of several dates of the experiment. After registering for a date you get an e-mail confirming your registration.

However, when you have registered for a certain date, you should come, of cause. Regarding the topic “Cancel regsitration” please read the corresponding FAQ.

Q: I’ve seen that there are Sessions with free places in the calendar. Why can’t I register for these sessions?

A: For the most experiments we invite only a random subset out of all participants. We do that to ensure that not always only participants with instant access to their email participate at the experiments.

On the other side, sometimes we invite only participants with certain characteristics, for instance people who have not participated in some former experiments.

Thus it is possible that you see experiment sessions in the calendar but are not invited for them. However, if there are not enough participants registering for these sessions, we will send out invitations to more participants.

Q: Who can apply for a subject account?

A: Anyone who is interested in participating in experiments can apply for a subject account.

Q: I have registered for an Experiment, but cannot register for all the other experiments, because they disappeared!

A: Nearly all experiments consist of several sessions. Of course, you can only register for one session for a certain experiment. If you are registered, the otrher sessions will disappear from the list.

However: For every single experiment you will get an extra invitation e-mail, if you are invited.

Q: How can I cancel my registration for an experiment?

A: There is no feature which allows you to cancel your registration.

You have to check if you are available for an experiment BEFORE you register for it.

However, if you become ill or are not able to attend due to some unforeseeable event, answer to your invitation e-mail and ask to be signed off AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Please state your reasons in detail.

Q: Should I put in fake information when creating a subject account?

A: No, never do that. Your information is a crucial element of the experimental research. You will not be allowed to participate in an experiment if your record is found incorrect. In case you do not want to provide certain information just leave the field blank. Note, however, that providing information will increase the probablility to be invited.

Q: What is the meaning of the three question marks “???” after an experiment under “Experiments you participated”?

A: After counducting an experiment we need some time to update the participant database. As long as the experimenter has not filled in the participation data, there will be the three question marks as the “show-up” status for an experiment. When the data is there, the status will change to either “yes” or “no”.