January 09-13, 2018, The Economic Science Institute at Chapman University hosted 20 doctoral students from around the world for the 23rd Annual Visiting Graduate Student Workshop in Experimental Economics.

The workshop introduces students to experimental economics by exposing students to the practical skills needed to run experiments as well as the deeper philosophy of economics. In a series of 10 sessions, the students first participated in an economic experiment earning cash as a naive subject would. Afterwards, students discussed with the faculty member the research questions and methods of the project.

Vernon Smith and Bart Wilson lead a Socratic discussion

Participants enjoy the unique workshop structure of using experiments. “I would highly recommend the workshop to others,” said one participant. “It is an unusual but extremely helpful procedure to participate in experiments first and then have a presentation about exactly this experiment and related topics. It gives a better and by far more interesting insight in ongoing top-level research than “just” presentations, since it definitely provides a deeper level of understanding.”

The workshop participants had the opportunity to interact with the faculty throughout and the week ended with a dinner with the presenters and attendees. “This is best place for experimental economists,” one participant wrote. “Everyone does experimental studies, and you have so many experts to talk with and ask suggestions for.”

The workshop is not only a fantastic way to learn more about experimental economics, it can be a great networking experience. Participants meet other passionate and future peers in their field. Attendees become quick friends and can remain life-time colleagues or co-authors. One participant wrote, “The workshop is top notch. My peers were all clearly intelligent, motivated, and interesting people. I think developing a network here will produce long-lived value. Further, I have developed new interests here and met people with whom I hope I can collaborate on future work.”

The topics covered a broad range of applications, including macro institutions, risk preferences, and social norms in the lab. Vernon Smith and Bart Wilson led a Socratic round table discussion on selected essays and selections of writings by W.S. Jevons, F.A. Hayek, and Vernon Smith. The students also had the opportunity to attend a couple of talks at the Experimental Finance Conference also taking place at Chapman University.

The workshop is generously sponsored by the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE).

The workshop topics/experiments and speakers were:

  • Public vs. Secret Reserve Prices – David Porter, Chapman University
  • Comparing Techniques for Inducing Cognitive Load – Cary Deck, University of Arkansas and Chapman University
  • Land Assembly – Abel Winn, Chapman University
  • Risk Preferences and Market Prices – Juergen Huber, University of Innsbruck
  • Experiments in Money & Macro – Gabriele Camera, Chapman University
  • Pre-Colloquium Experiment and Colloquium Discussion – Vernon Smith and Bart Wilson, Chapman University
  • Norms & Norm Following – Erik Kimbrough, Chapman University
  • No-Instruction Games – Sarah Brosnan, Georgia State University
  • Virtual Worlds – Kevin McCabe, George Mason University             
  • Choice Architecture of Investments – Eric Schniter, Chapman University and Joaquin Gómez-Min͂ambres, Lafayette College

Vernon Smith monitors an experiment during the Graduate Student Workshop

Required Readings

  • F.A. Hayek, American Economic Review, “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” (1945)
  • F.A. Hayek, The Essence of Hayek, Chiaki Nishiyama & Kurt R. Leube (Ed.), “Competition as a Discovery Procedure,” Chap. 13
  • William Stanley Jevons, The Theory of Political Economy, “Definition of a Market & Definition of a Trading Body,” Chap. IV, (London: Macmillan & Co., 1888, 3rd Ed.)
  • Vernon L. Smith, Economic Inquiry, “Markets as Economizers of Information: Experimental Examination of the “Hayek Hypothesis,” (1982)

    Vernon Smith chats with workshop participants

Here is what some participants had to say about the workshop:

“I met interesting characters from all around the world which show an interest in experimental economics. What I especially liked is how Chapman faculties treated us Ph.D. candidates. We were treated almost like friends and therefore I felt really comfortable in the department.”

“This workshop taught me a lot about the experimental techniques used to conduct economic research. It was also nice for me to meet my future peers and other experts in the field”

“Good exposure to various topics and designs. It was useful to sit through the experiments as a subject before having the presentation and discussion, much better than just passively skimming through papers beforehand.”

“Excellent talks that expanded my horizons. Also, wonderful networking opportunity w/ faculty and other attendees. Getting to experience a tiny bit of California was a nice cherry on top.”

“I would recommend this workshop because in a few days I was exposed to a wide range of different experiments, including both those which I had some prior experience with (mostly just reading articles on) and those which I had never considered prior. Actually participating in the experiments gave me plenty of ideas of how to construct my own in the future. Especially in how to develop instructions. One of the presenters pointed out the great difficulty in writing up instructions and I agree fully.”

“It is a great overall program, we got to meet faculty and other students who will become future co-authors hopefully. The program does emphasize a broad range of material, and some topics were completely new to me.”

For more information on the workshop and upcoming dates hosted at the Economic Science Institute, please visit the Economic Science Institute’s website.