Preferences and constraints: The value of economic games for studying human behavior
- Subject Areas
- Anthropology, Evolutionary Studies, Psychiatry and Psychology
- social science, lab in the field, cross-cultural comparisons, methods, experiments, replication
- © 2019 Pisor et al.
- This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ Preprints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
- Cite this article
- 2019. Preferences and constraints: The value of economic games for studying human behavior. PeerJ Preprints 7:e27355v2 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.27355v2
As economic games have spread from experimental economics to other social sciences, so too have critiques of their usefulness for drawing inferences about the “real world.” What these criticisms often miss is that games can be used to reveal individuals’ private preferences in ways that observational and interview data cannot; further, economic games can be designed such that they do provide insights into real-world behavior. Here, we draw on our collective experience using economic games in field contexts to illustrate how researchers can strategically alter the framing or design of economic games to draw inferences about private-world or real-world preferences. A detailed case study from coastal Colombia provides an example of the subtleties of game design and how games can be combined fruitfully with self-report data. We close with a list of concrete recommendations for how to modify economic games to better match particular research questions and research contexts.
This manuscript was substantially restructured and expanded from its previous version. It is now under submission to Royal Society Open Science.