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In this dissertation I explorer the role of inactivity in the social science laboratory, looking at how it affects subjects and their behavior, and I look into some alternatives. In chapter 3, I look at how experimenter imposed activity affects subject behavior in three simple economic environments: a Dictator Game, a Voluntary Contributions Public Good, and a Gamble Selection task. I find very little to no change in behavior in any of the environments as a result of the inactivity. In chapter 4, I look at the same three economic environments, but manipulate the source of the inactivity so that it is now partially the result of other subjects' actions. In this situation, I find some evidence that inactivity affects subject behavior in the Dictator Game, and strong evidence that it affects behavior in the Public Goods environment, but no evidence that it effects risk preferences. In Chapter 5, I use a novel setup to take a direct measure of the value subjects have for inactivity. I find that subjects are willing to forgo positive wages to avoid inactivity. In Chapter 6, I look at possible alternatives to inactivity and elicit subjects' valuations of each activity across different lengths of time. I identify two activities whose value I cannot show to be significantly different from zero, and whose value does not change significantly across different lengths of time.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Economics in partial fulfillment of the Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
R. Mark Isaac, Professor Directing Dissertation; Allen Blay, University Representative; David J. Cooper, Committee Member; Svetlana Pevnitskaya, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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