Skip to main content

Selective Trials: A Principal-Agent Approach to Randomized Controlled Experiments

Author(s): Chassang, Sylvain; Padró i Miquel, Gerard; Snowberg, Erik

To refer to this page use:
Abstract: We study the design of randomized controlled experiments when outcomes are significantly affected by experimental subjects' unobserved effort expenditure. While standard randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are internally consistent, the unobservability of effort compromises external validity. We approach trial design as a principal-agent problem and show that natural extensions of RCTs-which we call selective trials-can help improve external validity. In particular, selective trials can disentangle the effects of treatment, effort, and the interaction of treatment and effort. Moreover, they can help identify when treatment effects are affected by erroneous beliefs and inappropriate effort expenditure.(JEL C90, D82)
Publication Date: Jun-2012
Citation: Chassang, Sylvain, Padró i Miquel, Gerard, Snowberg, Erik. (2012). Selective Trials: A Principal-Agent Approach to Randomized Controlled Experiments. American Economic Review, 102 (4), 1279 - 1309. doi:10.1257/aer.102.4.1279
DOI: doi:10.1257/aer.102.4.1279
ISSN: 0002-8282
Pages: 1279 - 1309
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: American Economic Review
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

Items in OAR@Princeton are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.