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EMAC 2022 Annual

Why Do People Condemn and Appreciate Experiments?

Published: May 24, 2022


Burcak Bas, Bocconi; Rachele Ciulli, University of Pennsylvania; Joachim Vosgerau, Bocconi


We show that people evaluate experiments based on their lay beliefs about normative standards of best practice, which leads them to condemn and to appreciate almost identical experiments. When a normative standard is believed to exist, an experiment (e.g., randomly assigning Covid-19 patients to receive either of two FDA-approved drugs A and B) violates the standard and is evaluated as worse than either of its treatment arms. When an experiment is designed to discover a new normative standard (e.g., randomly assigning patients to receive either of two experimental drugs A and B to find a new treatment for Covid-19), the experiment is evaluated as better than either of its treatment arms. The demonstration of experiment appreciation helps provide guidelines for promoting experiments to the public.