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London Experimental Workshop

The London Experimental Workshop is a joint venture between Middlesex University, Queen Mary University and Royal Holloway University, all based in London, and is funded by the ESRC (Economic & Social Research Council). It is a small and highly specialized conference focusing on different topics in experimental economics each year and bringing together leading international researchers of these fields. The LEW 2016 covered the two topics “collusion” and “social preferences” and included four inspiring keynotes by David Cooper (Florida State University), Friederike Mengel (University of Essex), Simon Gaetcher (University of Nottingham) and Bertil Tungodden (Norwegian School of Economics).

As my PhD Thesis is a basic research project on individual competitive preferences, I was happy to participate in one of the social preferences sessions. Competitive preferences are a class of social preferences dealing with individuals’ selection into and behavior within competitive environments. My presentation at LEW “Economics meets Psychology: Experimental and self-reported Measures of Individual Competitiveness” is based on a joint work with Werner Bönte (University of Wuppertal) and Diemo Urbig (University of Wuppertal). It consists of a comparative study linking economic research on competitive preferences with psychological competitiveness research. We empirically examine the relationship between a behavioral competitiveness measure and a self-reported competitiveness scale. We find a stable positive relationship between these measures suggesting that both measures are indicators of the same underlying latent variable, which might be interpreted as a general preference to enter competitive situations. Moreover, our results suggest that the self-reported scale partly rests on motives related to personal development, whereas the behavioral measure does not reflect competitiveness motivated by personal development.

The LEW provided me a great opportunity to present and discuss my work with international specialists of the field and the feedback I received in my presentation as well as throughout the workshop contained valuable insights for my PhD research. The LEW also helped me to start conversation with some colleagues, who are interested in our work. Moreover, the LEW pointed out several methodical advances for economic experiments, such as the use of incentivized comprehension tests. In many experimental studies a threat of external validity arises from the participants’ potential lack of comprehension of the experimental design. Incentivized comprehension tests can not only help to distinguish participants, who understand the experimental design, from those participants, who do not, which is essential for interpretation of respective results. Incentivized comprehension tests can also motivate participants to understand the experimental design, and thus make more complex designs feasible. Hence, I think a broad range of experimental studies can benefit from these methodical advances.

If you are interested in our working paper “Economics meets Psychology: Experimental and self-reported Measures of Individual Competitiveness” or in further LEW insights on experimental economics please do not hesitate to contact me (Lombardo{at}wiwi.uni-wuppertal.de).