FAQs

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 receive a series of questions, either on a computer in your cubicle or on a sheet of paper. These will lead to certain outcomes depending on the sum of the decisions within your group. You will be given detailed instructions about a 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: 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.

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 people’s decisions in economically relevant situations. The experimental results are summarised in articles published in scientific journals. See here for some examples of experiments that have been conducted at the lab.

Q: Who can take part in an economics experiment?

A: Anyone can take part in an experiment provided they have signed up in our database. No prior knowledge of economics is necessary. Typically, participants are university students from all different types of disciplines. Participants must be at least 18 years old. If you’d like to participate please register here.

Q: Where can I read about the results of economics experiments?

A: Articles summarising experimental results are published in international peer-reviewed journals. In the past, experimental economists at The University of Melbourne have published their articles in journals such as: Economic Inquiry, Experimental Economics, International Journal of Industrial Organization, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Southern Economic Journal, Journal of Public Economics, Applied Economics, and Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation. For a list of publications click here.

Q: I’ve seen that there are sessions with free places in the calendar. Why can't I register for these sessions?

A: For most experiments we randomly select participants from the ones who registered to participate. Sometimes, however, we invite only participants with certain characteristics, or people who have not participated in certain previous experiments. Therefore, it is possible that you will see experiment sessions in the calendar that you are not able to register for.

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

A: We pay every participant in an experiment at least a minimum of $10 for showing up on time and being able to participate for the full duration of the experiment. Your final payment depends on your decisions, the decisions of the other participants, and the type of experiment. All experiments aim to pay between $15-$30 per hour.

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 via a computer. 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.)

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.

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

A: No, only those who’ve received an invite to an experiment and who have registered are required. We only need a limited a number of participants for each session and these are sometimes selected according to specific criteria.

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 people randomly (sometimes according to certain criteria) from a subject pool of more than 7000 people. Therefore, you cannot be invited for every experiment we conduct. It may take some time until you are selected. You are also less likely to be selected if you have already participated in certain experiments as we often repeat the same sessions with new participants.  Some of the fields in the registration form are optional, the more fields you fill out the more likely you are to be invited.

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

A: There is no feature which allows you to cancel your registration. Please ensure you are available for an experiment before you register. However, if you become ill or are unable attend due to unforeseeable circumstances, please reply to your invitation email and ask to be signed off as soon as possible. If you don’t you’ll jeopardise your chances of recruitment for future sessions.

Q: Why are there three question marks after some experiments in the “Experiments you participated in”?

A: After conducting an experiment we need some time to update the participant database. As long as the experimenter has not filled in the participation data, there will be three question marks as the ‘show-up’ status for an experiment. When the data is there, the status will change to either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

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

A: Nearly all experiments consist of several sessions. You can only register for one session for each experiment. Once you have registered, the other sessions will disappear from the list.

Please note that you will receive an email inviting you to participate each time you are recruited for an experiment.

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

A: In order to conduct experiments with university students, we gained approval from an ethics committee. In accordance with this approval, we will not disclose personal information to a third party in any way.

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

A: Yes. If you have selected a particular session to attend by clicking on a link provided in the invitation email and picking one out of several times/dates. We only allow a limited number of participants to confirm each session time, not showing up can create delays or even the cancellation of an experiment. If you are unable to attend you should notify us in time. (See questions about cancelling your registration – relevant link here).

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

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’.  If you do not have an e-mail from our system with your link, please e-mail economics-experiments@unimelb.edu.au requesting to be unsubscribed.