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Conducting interactive experiments online

Arechar, Antonio A.; Gaechter, Simon; Molleman, Lucas


Antonio A. Arechar

Professor, Psychology of Economic Decision Making

Lucas Molleman


Online labor markets provide new opportunities for behavioral research, but conducting economic experiments online raises important methodological challenges. This particularly holds for interactive designs. In this paper, we provide a methodological discussion of the similarities and differences between interactive experiments conducted in the laboratory and online. To this end, we conduct a repeated public goods experiment with and without punishment using samples from the laboratory and the online platform Amazon Mechanical Turk. We chose to replicate this experiment because it is long and logistically complex. It therefore provides a good case study for discussing the methodological and practical challenges of online interactive experimentation. We find that basic behavioral patterns of cooperation and punishment in the laboratory are replicable online. The most important challenge of online interactive experiments is participant dropout. We discuss measures for reducing dropout and show that, for our case study, dropouts are exogenous to the experiment. We conclude that data quality for interactive experiments via the Internet is adequate and reliable, making online interactive experimentation a potentially valuable complement to laboratory studies.


Arechar, A. A., Gaechter, S., & Molleman, L. (2018). Conducting interactive experiments online. Experimental Economics, 21(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 2, 2017
Online Publication Date May 9, 2017
Publication Date Mar 1, 2018
Deposit Date May 15, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 15, 2017
Journal Experimental Economics
Print ISSN 1386-4157
Electronic ISSN 1573-6938
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 1
Keywords Experimental methodology; Behavioral research; Internet experiments; Amazon Mechanical Turk; Public goods game Punishment
Public URL
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