Experimental Economics, Al Roth
This version 2/12/10

Various critiques of experimental and behavioral economics:

  1. Theory and (or versus) experiments (or, what should economists study?)
    1. Drew Fudenberg: "Advancing Beyond 'Advances in Behavioral Economics'" 2006, Journal of Economic Literature 44: 694-711
    2. David Levine, "The Relationship of Economic Theory to Experiments, 2009.
    1. Douglas Gale: "Is Psychology the Future of Economics?" 2005.
    1. Ariel Rubinstein (who is discouraged about the scientific status of both economics experiments and economics generally):
      1. "A Theorist's View of Experiments," European Economic Review 45 (2001), 615-628.
      2. Dilemmas of An Economic Theorist, Presidential Address, Econometrica, Vol. 74, No. 4 (July, 2006), 865�883
      3. "Economics and Psychology"? The Case of Hyperbolic Discounting," International Economic Review 44 (2003), 1207-1216.
      4. Ariel Rubinstein: " Discussion of ''Behavioral Economics''," 2005
      5. Comments on Neuroeconomics, March, 2008
    1. Neuroeconomics
      1. Gul and Pesendorfer: "The Case for Mindless Economics," 2005
      2. University Pompeu Fabreu hosted a debate on this subject between Aldo Rustichini and Wolfgang Pesendorfer DEBATE Date: 26/05
        Speaker: Aldo Rustichini (NY University) and Wolfgang Pesendorfer (Princeton)
        Title: "Pros and Cons for mindless economics" Inspired by the paper "The case for mindless economics" by Faruk Gul and Wolfgang Pesendorfer.
        "Neuroeconomics: The Consilience of Brain and Decision". Paul W. Glimcher and Aldo Rustichini. 15 OCTOBER 2004 VOL 306 SCIENCE www.sciencemag.org
        "Neuroeconomics: Present and future"  Aldo Rustichini,  Introduction / Games and Economic Behavior 52 (2005) 201�212
        "Emotion and Reason in Making Decisions". Aldo Rustichini 9 DECEMBER 2005 VOL 310 SCIENCE www.sciencemag.org
        "Neuroeconomics of Mind Reading and Empathy" by Tania Singuer and Ernst Fehr. AEA PAPERS AND PROCEEDINGS MAY 2005
        "Neuroeconomic Foundations of Trust and Social Preferences: Initial Evidence" by Ernst Fehr, Urs Fischbacher, and Michael Kosfeld AEA PAPERS AND PROCEEDINGS MAY 2005
      3. Here are some Powerpoint slides of mine called Questions for Neuro-social-scientists, from a conference organized by Ernst Fehr at the Swiss consulate in Cambridge on the Ides of March 2007, at which I was a member of a panel. (It includes my report of an fMRI of a car...:)
      4. The AEJ: Microeconomics had the following papers in Vol. 1 No. 2, August 2009
        1. B. Douglas Bernheim, On the Potential of Neuroeconomics: A Critical (but Hopeful) Appraisal ( pp. 1-41 )
        2. A Comment on Bernheim's Appraisal of Neuroeconomics ( pp. 42-47 )
          Faruk Gul and Wolfgang Pesendorfer
        3. Is There a Method of Neuroeconomics? ( pp. 48-59 )
          Aldo Rustichini
        4. Neuroeconomics: A Comment on Bernheim ( pp. 60-67 )
          Joel Sobel
    2. What can you conclude from experiments?
      1. The January 2010 JEBO is scheduled to have the following papers, which replace or update some of those in item 2 below:

        Experimental Economics: Where Next? by K. Binmore & A. Shaked

        Fehr Schmidt's JEBO reply

        Blaming the Messenger: Notes on the Current State of Experimental Economics by Catherine Eckel and Herbert Gintis

        Experimental Economics: Where Next? Rejoinder, Binmore and Shaked's final word.

      2. Avner Shaked: 2005 "The Rhetoric of Inequity Aversion," (and rejoinder to Fehr and Schmidt's reply, and a new Sept. 2006 critique): http://www.wiwi.uni-bonn.de/shaked/rhetoric/
        1. Fehr and Schmidt's 2005 reply "The Rhetoric of Inequity Aversion--A Reply" March 2005.
        2. Binmore and Shaked "Experimental Economics: Science or What?" 2007
      3. Ken Binmore: "Economic Man or Straw Man? A commentary on Heinrich et al."
    1. "Experimental versus Behavioral"
      (From The Economic Journal, Vol. 109, No. 453, Features, Feb., 1999)
      1. "Why Experiment in Economics?," pp. F16-F24, by Ken Binmore
      1. "Experimental Economics from the Vantage-Point of Behavioural Economics," pp. F25-F34, George Loewenstein
    1. Experimental methods:
      1. Roth, A.E. "Let's Keep the Con Out of Experimental Econ.: A Methodological Note," Empirical Economics (Special Issue on Experimental Economics), 1994, 19, 279-289. Reprinted in J.D. Hey (editor), Experimental Economics, Physica Verlag, Heidelberg, 1994, 99-109.


    2. Field experiments (and field experiments versus lab experiments)

    Steven D. Levitt and John A. List: "What do Laboratory Experiments Tell Us About the Real World?,"; June, 2006(much revised version),ultimately published as

    Levitt, Steven D. and John A. List (2007a), �What do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences tell us about the Real World,� Journal of Economic Perspectives , 21 (2): 153-174.

    Levitt, Steven D. and John A. List (2007b), �Viewpoint: On the generalizability of lab behaviour to the field,� Canadian Journal of Economics, 40(2), pp. 347-370.

    1. Here are the slides of my comments at the Roundtable discussion of the Levitt & List paper chaired by Gary Becker at the ASSA meetings, Boston, January 8, 2006.

    Instruments of development: Randomization in the tropics, and the search for the elusive keys to economic development, Angus Deaton, January, 2009

    Comparing IV with Structural Models: What Simple IV Can and Cannot Identify, by James J. Heckman and Sergio Urzua, January 2009

    Better LATE Than Nothing: Some Comments on Deaton (2009) and Heckman and Urzua (2009), by
    Guido W. Imbens, April 2009

    And here's a defense of lab experiments:

    Falk, Armin and James J. Heckman (2009), �Lab Experiments Are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences,� Science , 326, 23 October, 535-8.

    and (also from Chicago) here's a paper that is optimistic about how well social preferences measured in the lab predict outside the lab behavior: Baran, Nicole, Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales Can We Infer Social Preferences from the Lab? Evidence from the Trust Game