Experienced vs. inexperienced participants in the lab: do they behave differently?

  • Volker Benndorf
  • Claudia Moellers
  • Hans-Theo NormannEmail author
Original Paper


We analyze whether subjects with extensive laboratory experience and first-time participants, who voluntarily registered for the experiment, differ in their behavior. Subjects play four one-shot, two-player games: a trust game, a beauty contest, an ultimatum game, a traveler’s dilemma and, in addition, we conduct a single-player lying task and elicit risk preferences. We find few significant differences. In the trust game, experienced subjects are less trustworthy and they also trust less. Furthermore, experienced subjects submit fewer non-monotonic strategies in the risk elicitation task. We find no differences whatsoever in the other decisions. Nevertheless, the minor differences observed between experienced and inexperienced subjects may be relevant because we document a potential recruitment bias: the share of inexperienced subjects may be lower in the early recruitment waves.


Dilemma Experienced subjects Laboratory methods Trust game 

JEL Classification

C90 C70 C72 



We are grateful to our editor, Bob Slonim, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. Also Tim Cason’s and Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch’s comments helped improving the paper. Thanks also to Brit Grosskopf and Rosemarie Nagel for sharing their data with us.

Supplementary material

40881_2017_36_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (303 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 303 kb)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Volker Benndorf
    • 1
  • Claudia Moellers
    • 2
  • Hans-Theo Normann
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsGoethe University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany
  2. 2.Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE)Heinrich Heine University DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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