Social preference in the lab: A comparison of students and a representative population

Alexander Wright Cappelen, Knut Nygaard, Erik Øiolf Sørensen and Bertil Tungodden

The Scandinavian Journal of Economics

Photo: The Scandinavian Journal of Economics

Published in:

The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, volume 117, pp. 1306-1326, 2015

DOI: 10.1111/sjoe.12114



We report from a lab experiment conducted with a sample of participants that is nationally representative for the adult population in Norway and two student samples (economics students and non-economics students). The participants make choices both in a dictator game (a non-strategic environment) and in a generalized trust game (a strategic environment). We find that the representative sample differs fundamentally from the student samples, both in the relative importance assigned to different moral motives (efficiency, equity, and reciprocity) and in the level of selfish behavior. It is also interesting to note that the gender effects observed in the student samples do not correspond to the gender effects observed in representative sample. Finally, whereas economics students behave less pro-socially than non-economics students, the two student groups are similar in the relative importance they assign to different moral motives.

Published July 20, 2016 11:34 AM - Last modified Nov. 20, 2017 2:38 PM