Experimental Economics

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 251–283

Social preferences in the online laboratory: a randomized experiment

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10683-014-9400-5

Cite this article as:
Hergueux, J. & Jacquemet, N. Exp Econ (2015) 18: 251. doi:10.1007/s10683-014-9400-5


Internet is a very attractive technology for the implementation of experiments, both in order to obtain larger and more diverse samples and as a field of economic research in its own right. This paper reports on an experiment performed both online and in the laboratory, designed to strengthen the internal validity of decisions elicited over the Internet. We use the same subject pool, the same monetary stakes and the same decision interface, and control the assignment of subjects between the Internet and a traditional university laboratory. We apply the comparison to the elicitation of social preferences in a Public Good game, a dictator game, an ultimatum bargaining game and a trust game, coupled with an elicitation of risk aversion. This comparison concludes in favor of the reliability of behaviors elicited through the Internet. We moreover find a strong overall parallelism in the preferences elicited in the two settings. The paper also reports some quantitative differences in the point estimates, which always go in the direction of more other-regarding decisions from online subjects. This observation challenges either the predictions of social distance theory or the generally assumed increased social distance in internet interactions.


Social experiment Field experiment Internet Methodology Randomized assignment 

JEL Classification

C90 C93 C70 

Supplementary material

10683_2014_9400_MOESM1_ESM.docx (195 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 195 kb)

Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Political StudiesUniversity of StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsSciences PoParisFrance
  3. 3.Berkman Center for Internet & SocietyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Université de Lorraine (BETA)NancyFrance
  5. 5.Paris School of EconomicsParisFrance

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