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Viewpoint: The costs and benefits of deception in economic experiments
- Lusk, Jayson L.
- Food policy 2019 v.83 pp. 2-4
- cost benefit analysis, food policy, foods, new products
- The historical justifications typically given for the prohibition against deception in economic experiments are less relevant for today’s experiments that are often conducted in non-lab settings with non-student subjects. I describe a variety of research questions that might be most adequately answered with some form of deception, and call for a more nuanced view of the issue that requires a consideration of the importance of the research question relative to the potential costs of deception. For example, in the case of new food products that have not yet been developed, does the sin of hypothetical bias outweigh the sin of deceiving subjects in a non-hypothetical experiment? It is important for journals or professions, which ban the use of deception, to actually define what practices fall under the ban.