Many departments at UCD conduct behavioral experiments with humans. Since there is no campus-wide coordinator to facilitate cooperation between departments, and logistical difficulties (eg, ownership, responsibility, design approval, etc.) make it difficult to create a page, we are using this wiki to do so. Feel free to add to and/or edit this page.

Participating in some of these studies is a great way to earn some extra cash as an undergraduate. Pay attention to bulletin boards seeking volunteers and email for more info. Sometimes it's something as simple as hanging out and playing board games for an hour to earn $25. It's fun, it helps out researchers and it can earn you some extra dough.

Who cares about this page?

Experimenters in various departments may want to know what others are doing, what software they are using and/or want to give/receive help in carrying out experiments. They should be able to find each other here.

Students may want to participate in experiments in various departments. They should be able to learn more on this page.

If you want to know more about experimental economics, check out this page at Vernon Smith's Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science. Smith won the Nobel Prize for his experimental work in 2002.

Departments and Groups Doing Experiments

Economics sometimes recruiting subjects for market games. Register at and then respond to an invitation for scheduled sessions. Compensation is on average $15 for an hour session, and is at least $5 simply for showing up to the experiment. Contact: Burkhard C. Schipper

Agricultural & Resource Economics (Sign up for Experiments). Contact: Travis Lybbert. Students: has done Public Good and Auction experiments with undergrads and water executives using CASSELL and zTree. is interested in doing experiments on information, learning, and demand analysis. is expecting to implement lab experiments in order to test the performance of different institutional frameworks for cap and trade schemes.

Cultural Evolution Lab Group involves people from Anthropology (Richard McElreath) and Environmental Science and Policy (Mark Lubell and Pete Richerson). Students interested in participating in these experiments can sign up @sky here. For more information contact

Political Science: Bob Huckfeldt, Cindy Kam and Elizabeth Zechmeister

Psychology. Contact: unknown.

How Do You Do an Experiment?

  1. get an idea

  2. get some money

  3. design experiment (computer or not, lab or field)

  4. get IRB approval

  5. schedule sessions

  6. recruit subjects

  7. run experiment, pay subjects, collect data

  8. analyze, write and publish!

Funding Sources

Each of the following has been used to support social science experiments by UCD researchers. Please add other (even potential) sources of funding.

  • NSF supports social science—and other—research with multiple types of grants and fellowships.
  • Sigma Xi supports social science—and other—research with small GIAR grants (up to $1000).
  • Wenner-Gren supports anthropological research with multiple types of grants.

Software for Experiments

  • ExLab web-based software from U Florida for managing experiments and subjects (free — but you must contact them for an account).
  • Veconlab web-based software for online economic experiments with over 50 templates (free)
  • zTree PC-software for experiments (free with signed use agreement). zTree has a helpful mailing list, too.
  • Gameweb, a web-based experimental game platform initially developed by Richard McElreath and funded by the NSF. The platform is built on PHP/MySQL and runs on an Apache server. It is currently in the process of being open-sourced as a SourceForge project.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

To protect subjects, all UCD-based principal investigators are required to get IRB approval before beginning experiments (or any form of research involving human subjects). The IRB process was developed to prevent unethical research or research that could expose its human subjects to unreasonable risk. This concern was spurred by historical precedent. However, the experiments discussed in this DavisWiki article are distinguished from the majority of IRB cases because they are behavioral experiments and completely non-invasive. The IRB process seems overly-complicated for simple behavioral experiments, but it's required. Nobody disagrees with the need for an IRB-like process overseeing all human experiments, but many people hope a separate institution could govern non-medical research in the social and behavioral sciences. Luckily, non-invasive experiments can often be reviewed and approved using the "expedited" form in about a week.

Facilities @ UCD

  • 93 Hutchison can be reserved by UCD experimenters for free. Contact They have zTree installed on the 30 computers there.

How to Recruit & Schedule Students

Flyers, ads in the Aggie, in-class announcements, email to list-servs, facebook(?)

CASSELL web-based software from CalTech for managing experiments and subjects (free — but you must set it up on your own server).

Experiments at Other UC campuses

Other Resources

  • Economic Science Association organizes conferences and runs listservs for jobs, conferences and experimental methodology.
  • Visiting Graduate Student Workshop in Experimental Economics at ICES is an excellent way to learn about different experimental methods & theory and meet people who do lots of experiments & students interested in them. The workshop takes place in mid-July and is free. You will earn enough money from participating to pay most or all of your travel, food and lodging expenses. Applications are due March 15.


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