FAQs

General

Q: What is an economics experiment like?

A: Experiments can differ considerably. In most cases, each experimental session consists of ten to thirty individuals. Upon entering the laboratory, you will be seated in your own cubicle. You will be asked to make a series of decisions, either on a computer in your cubicle or on a sheet of paper. These will lead to certain outcomes depending on the experiment, your decisions, and/or the decisions made by others within your group. You will be given detailed instructions about the setting and the type of decisions you will have to make. You will earn money according to these decisions. An example of a decision is whether or not to contribute money towards a common project from an initial endowment that you have been given.

Q: What is the purpose of an economics experiment?

A: All experiments are conducted to collect data for scientific purposes. The aim is to understand the factors that influence decisions in economically relevant situations. The experimental results are summarised in articles published in scientific journals.

Q: Do I need to know anything about economics?

A: No knowledge of economics or prior experience with experiments is necessary. You will only have to make simple decisions often via a computer terminal or on paper. The only requirement is that you are able to understand questions written in English and that you have basic mathematical skills (e.g. addition, multiplication etc.)

Registration

Q: Who can register to participate in an economics experiment?

A: Anyone can take part in an experiment provided they have registered to be part of our E2MU database. No prior knowledge of economics is necessary. Participants must be at least 18 years old. If you’d like to participate please register here.

Q: How can I participate in an economics experiment?

A: If you’d like to participate in an economics experiment, please register here.

Q: Do I have to show up when I am invited to participate in an experiment?

When you receive an invitation email from us, you will be informed which sessions you are eligible to participate in. To register for a session, you can click on the link provided in the invitation email and pick the session that you would like to attend. Once you have registered for a session you are required to show up for the experiment on time. Otherwise you will recieve a “no-show” penalty.

Q: How can I cancel my registration for an experiment?

A: Please ensure that you are available for an experiment before you register. After registering for a particular experiment session, if you are unable to attend due to unforeseeable circumstances, please email economics-experiments@unimelb.edu.au to notify the researchers immediately. Participants who do not show up for the experiment on time or who cancel their registration within 1 hour prior to the start of the experiment will receive a “no-show” penalty.

Q: I have registered for one experiment, but cannot register for any other session(s), as they disappeared. Why is this?

A: Each experiment often consists of several sessions (of the same experiment). You can only register for one session for each experiment. Once you have registered for a particular session, the other sessions will disappear from the list.

Q: I see that there are sessions with free places in the calendar. Why am I unable to register for these sessions?

A: The E2MU server selects a random sub-pool of participants to invite to each experiment. This ensures that everyone in the database has a chance to participate in our experiments. If you see experiment sessions in the calendar that you are not able to register for, it is likely that you have not been randomly chosen to participate in that session. It is also possible that these are sessions for an experiment that you have already participated in (you can only participate in each experiment once).

Q: Why haven’t I been invited to an experiment recently? Can I request to participate in an experiment?

A: No, you cannot ask us to participate in an experiment. We use a computerised system of recruitment which selects a random sub-pool of participants (sometimes according to certain criteria) from a subject pool of more than 9,000 people. Hence, you are unlikely to receive an invitation to every experiment that we conduct. It may take some time until you are randomly selected to participate in an experiment.

While some of the fields in the registration form are optional, you are more likely to receive an invitation if you fill out more fields on the form. Note that you will also not be selected to participate in an experiment if you have already participated in the same experiment before.

Q: If I didn’t register for a specific experiment, can I still participate?

A: No, only those who have received an invitation to an experiment and who have registered for a session are allowed to participate in that session of the experiment.

Q: How can I get my name removed from the E2MU server?

A: You can click the link at the bottom of every e-mail sent by our system to access your profile.  Then you can unsubscribe yourself by clicking on ‘Unsubscribe’. Alternatively, you can e-mail economics-experiments@unimelb.edu.au requesting to be unsubscribed from our database.

During the experiment

Q: Will I be paid to participate in experiments? And, if so, how much?

A: We pay each participant based on their decisions, the decisions of the other participants, and the type of experiment. All experiments aim to pay between AU$15 and AU$30 per hour on average.

Q: How long do economics experiments usually last?

A: The duration of each experiment differs. An experimental session can last between 30 minutes and three hours, or longer. Most experiments last between one and two hours. The invitation email will specify the length of the session.

Q: Where do the experiments take place?

A: We conduct experiments in different locations but most experiments take place in the Experimental Economics Laboratory in the Old Physics Building (click here for directions). You will be able to see the location details in the email inviting you to participate.

After the experiments

Q: How is the privacy of my personal information ensured?

A: In order to conduct experiments with university students, the researchers are required to have approval from a human ethics committee. In accordance with this approval, your personal information will not be disclosed to a third party in any way.

Q: Where can I find out more about the results of the economics experiments that I have participated in?

A: Articles summarising experimental results are published in international peer-reviewed journals. After you have participated in an experiment, you may contact the researchers to request a copy of the article (once it is published) by sending an e-mail to economics-experiments@unimelb.edu.au or by using the contact information provided on the Plain Language Statement given to you at the session.

Q: On my participant profile, why are there three question marks after some experiments in the “Experiments you participated in”?

A: After conducting an experiment the researchers need some time to update the E2MU database after conducting the experiment. Until the, there will be three question marks as the ‘show-up’ status for an experiment. When the data is update, the status will change to either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ depending on whether you have shown up for the session.