A theorist's view of experiments

Ariel Rubinstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper springs from a position that economic theory is an abstract investigation of the concepts and considerations involved in real life economic decision making rather than a tool for predicting or describing real behavior. It is argued that when experimental economics is motivated by theory, it should not look to verify the predictions of theory but instead should focus on verifying that the considerations contained in the economic model are sound and in common use. It is argued that when theory is motivated by experiments, the theorist should not be hasty in adopting new functional forms but should try to identify the basic psychological themes which are revealed exposed by the experiment. Finally, some critical comments on the methodology of experimental economics are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-628
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Economic Review
Issue number4-6
StatePublished - May 2001


  • Economic modeling
  • Economic theory
  • Experimental economics
  • Hyperbollic discounting


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