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Experiments, Surveys and the Use of Representative Samples as Reference Data


Thomas Siedler, Bettina Sonnenberg

During the last two decades, laboratory experiments have come into increasing prominence and constitute a popular method of research to examine behavioral outcomes and social preferences. However, it has been debated whether results from these experiments can be extrapolated to the real world and whether, for example, sample selection into the experiment might constitute a major shortcoming of this methodology. This note discusses potential benefits of combining experimental methods and representative datasets as a means to overcome some of the limitations of lab experiments. We also outline how large representative surveys can serve as reference data for researchers collecting their own datasets in order to explore potential sample selection biases.

Keywords: experiments, survey, representativity