The Adventure of Running Experiments with Teenagers

By: Antonio Alfonso-Costillo (Universidad Loyola); Pablo Brañas-Garza (Universidad Loyola); Diego Jorrat (Universidad Loyola); Pablo Lomas (Universidad Loyola); Benjamin Prissé (Universidad Loyola); Mónica Vasco (Universidad Loyola)

Economists are increasingly interested in how to conduct experiments with teenagers. This paper evaluates whether different methodological factors impact the answers of teenagers to standard experimental tasks on measuring time preferences, risk preferences, cognitive abilities and financial abilities, among others. Results show: i) the recruitment process matters depending on whether the school includes the experiment as an institutional activity or the teachers led the process particularly for their class; the dropout rate reduced significantly from the first to the third experimental wave, when the school was responsible for organizingthe experiment; ii) hypothetical payments elicits similar results than monetary payments; iii) adding visual elements to the experiment’s interface improves the quality of answers; and iv) the type of electronic device on which subjects answer the tasks does not influence results, while administrating the experiment by school teachers does affect the answers. We conclude by giving three suggestions to researchers interested in conducting experiments with teenagers: first, run the experiment as a school-programmed activity; second, it is not necessary the use of real payments which increases the cost and complicates the recruitment; and third, integratevisual components to the task

Keywords: developmental decision-making; field experiments; economic preferences; teenagers



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