, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 119-138
Date: 26 Sep 2010

Sociality and external validity in experimental economics

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Abstract

It is sometimes argued that experimental economists do not have to worry about external validity so long as the design sticks closely to a theoretical model. This position mistakes the model for the theory. As a result, applied economics designs often study phenomena distinct from their stated objects of inquiry. Because the implemented models are abstract, they may provide improbable analogues to their stated subject matter. This problem is exacerbated by the relational character of the social world, which also sets epistemic limits for the social science laboratory more generally.