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Prof. Alexander Wagner, SFI@UZH, carries out experiment on "And what do YOU do for money?"

Posted by
Anita Belitz Krasniqi
Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - 20:45

Prof. Alexander WagnerSFI@UZH, carried out a live experiment at the Manifesta 11, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, event hosted at the University of Zurich (UZH) from June 11 to July 10 under the topic of "What People do for Money." UZH hosted its own parallel event, “Transactions,” which explored the complex interrelationships between art and research. Alexander Wagner, Sascha Behnk (IBF post-doc) and Per Schmid (bachelor student) conducted an on-site experiment, in which participants, by their choices, helped answer the big question: And what do YOU do for money?

Participants had to flip a coin four times. Then, they reported how many times tails came up. CHF5 was awarded for each throw that returned tails. Importantly, participants tossed the coins secretly, without the experimenters or anyone else watching. Thus, the payouts depended on each participant’s (unknown) honesty in reporting the outcomes.  However, the researchers were able to infer group-level honesty by comparing the distribution of reported outcomes with the expected distribution. Wagner and his co-authors then examined the impact of various changes in the environment of the experiment, such as social norms and widely used tools such as asking participants to sign a “no-lying” pledge.

To see the interesting results of the experiment, visit the UZH page (in German)

This experiment is part of a larger project, sponsored by SFI, called "Words and Deeds".