Persuasion Bias in Science: Can Economics Help?

Alfredo Di Tillio, Marco Ottaviani, Peter Norman Sørensen

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    We investigate the impact of conflicts of interests on randomised controlled trials in a game‐theoretic framework. A researcher seeks to persuade an evaluator that the causal effect of a treatment outweighs its cost, to justify acceptance. The researcher can use private information to manipulate the experiment in three alternative ways: (i) sampling subjects based on their treatment effect, (ii) assigning subjects to treatment based on their baseline outcome, or (iii) selectively reporting experimental outcomes. The resulting biases have different welfare implications: for sufficiently high acceptance cost, in our binary illustration the evaluator loses in cases (i) and (iii) but benefits in case (ii).
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe Economic Journal
    Issue number605
    Pages (from-to)F266-F304
    Number of pages39
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

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