G53.3200.002: Experimental Methods in Political Science
Fall 2003, New York University
726 Broadway, room 700
Prof. Eric Dickson
Office: 726 Broadway, room 744
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 10:30am-12:30pm
Course Description: This course is designed to provide an introduction to experimental methods in political science for graduate students. The emphasis of the course will be on several different styles of laboratory experiments, but field experiments (and briefly, survey experiments) will also be discussed.
Experimental methods have become an increasingly important tool for political scientists. What are the potential strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of experiments relative to other research methods, such as surveys or econometric analyses of real-world data? What sorts of things can we hope to learn from experiments? And what are some of the important methodological issues that must be considered in designing effective experimental tests of theories? During the course of the semester, we will address all of these questions. By the end of the semester, students should not only have read a broad selection from the experimental literatures in political science (and economics), but also gained specific insights into experimental design that will enable them to begin formulating their own experimental research projects.
While the purpose of the course is primarily methodological, there is no better way to get a feel for how experiments work than to read experimental literatures from different fields. The experiments that we will discuss during the course of the semester will fall into three main categories: political economy (tests of theories of institutional structure, voting rules, and related topics); political psychology (exploring topics such as persuasion, political attitudes, and the processing of political information); and foundational issues (tests of the decision- and game-theoretic foundations that underlie most rational choice and formal work in political science).
Typically, if attendance is high enough, the first ten or fifteen minutes of class sessions will begin with an in-class experiment that illustrates some aspect, methodological and/or substantive, of the subject of the day. While the balance will vary from week to week, the remainder of the session will generally be divided between class discussion (the larger part) and a presentation by the instructor (the smaller part).
Course Prerequisites: All students will be required to have completed at least one semester of graduate-level game theory, and at least one semester of graduate-level quantitative methods (statistics), or the equivalent. The course is primarily aimed and second- and third-year graduate students, though other students with adequate preparation are also welcome.
Course Requirements: Students are expected to do as many of the assigned readings as possible in advance of the class in which they will be covered, and to participate actively in class discussions. In addition to the readings and class participation, there are two further requirements. First, there will be three short writing assignments (approximately 2-3 pages) during the course of the semester in response to material that is covered in class and in the readings. Second, students will be expected to submit an experimental design at the end of the semester. The design must provide a detailed, and plausible, scheme for an experiment that addresses a specific political science research question of the student's choosing (with prior approval of the instructor partway through the semester). The research design (along with a brief literature review and other necessary background materials) will typically run about 15-25 pages in length. Time permitting, students will present their designs in-class towards the end of the semester. Course assignments will be weighted roughly as follows for grading purposes: 60% experimental design; 20% short writing assignments; 20% class participation.
The following books (or large portions thereof) will be assigned reading for the course. The first two are listed as required in the NYU bookstore; the third is listed as (highly) recommended. In addition to these books, a number of separate articles will also be made available during the semester:
Camerer. 2003. Behavioral Game Theory: Experiments on Strategic Interaction.
Kinder & Palfrey (ed.). 1993. Experimental Foundations of Political Science.
Kagel & Roth (ed.). 1995. Handbook of Experimental Economics.
Week 1 (Sept. 2, 2003): Introduction; Survey Experiments
Camerer Chapters 1, 2.0-2.2
KR Chapter 1.
Kinder and Palfrey. “On Behalf of an Experimental Political Science” in KP.
McDermott. 2002. “Experimental Methodology in Political Science.” Political Analysis 10(4):325-342.
Week 2 (Sept. 9, 2003): Field Experiments
Wantchekon. 2003. “Clientelism and Voting Behavior: A Field Experiment in Benin.” NYU Typescript.
Gerber and Green. September 2000. "The Effects of Canvassing, Telephone Calls, and Direct Mail on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment." APSR 94(3):653-664.
Katz, Kling, and Liebman. 2001. "Moving to Opportunity in Boston: Early Results of a Randomized Mobility Experiment."
Green and Gerber. 2002. “The Downstream Benefits of Experimentation.” Political Analysis 10(4): 394-402.
Week 3 (Sept. 16, 2003): Individual Choice
KR Chapter 8
Week 4 (Sept. 23, 2003): Political Judgements
Lodge and Hamill. “A Partisan Schema for Political Information Processing” in KP.
Quattrone and Tversky. "Contrasting Rational and Psychological Analyses of Political Choice" in KP.
Mutz. March 2002. “Cross-Cutting Social Networks: Testing Democratic Theory in Practice.” APSR 96(1):111-126.
Redlawsk. November 2002. “Hot Cognition or Cool Consideration? Testing the Effects on Motivated Reasoning on Political Decision Making.” JOP 64(4):1021-1044.
Druckman. November 2001. “On the Limits of Framing Effects: Who can Frame?” JOP 63(4):1041-1066.
Nelson and Oxley. November 1999. “Issue Framing Effects on Belief Importance and Opinion.” JOP 61(4):1040-1067.
Nelson and Kinder. November 1996. “Issue Frames and Group-Centrism in American Public Opinion.” JOP 58(4):1055-1078.
Week 5 (Sept. 30, 2003): Iterated Dominance, Mixed Strategies, and other Staples of Game Theory
Camerer Chapters 3 and 5
Week 6 (Oct. 7, 2003) Bargaining
Camerer Chapter 4
KR Chapter 4
Palfrey. “Agendas and Decisions in Government” in KP
Fiorina and Plott. “Committee Decisions under Majority Rule: An Experimental Study” in KP
Eavey and Miller, “Bureaucratic Agenda Control” in KP
Frechette, Kagel, and Lehrer. May 2003. “Bargaining in Legislatures: An Experimental Investigation of Open versus Closed Amendment Rules.” APSR 97(2):221-232.
Guarnaschelli, McKelvey, and Palfrey. June 2000. “An Experimental Study of Jury Decision Rules.” APSR 94(2):407-424.
Week 8 (Oct. 21, 2003): Voting and Elections
McKelvey and Ordeshook. “Information and Elections” in KP.
Schram and Sonnemans. 1996. “Voter Turnout as a Participation Game: An
Experimental Investigation.” IJGT 25:385-406.
Morton and Williams. 1999. “Information Asymmetries and Simultaneous versus Sequential Voting.” APSR 93(1).
Morton. 1993. “Incomplete Information and Ideological Explanations of Platform Divergence.” APSR 87:382-392.
Forsythe, Rietz, Myerson, and Weber. 1996. “An Experimental Study of Voting Rules and Polls in Three-Candidate Elections.” IJGT 25:355-383.
Week 9 (Oct. 28, 2003): Media, Advertising, and Campaigns
Iyengar, Peters, and Kinder, "Experimental Demonstrations of the 'Not-So-Minimal' Consequences of Television News Programs" in KP.
Valentino, Hutchings, and White. March 2002. “Cues that Matter: How Political Ads Prime Racial Attitudes During Campaigns.” APSR 96(1):75-90.
Ansolabehere, Iyengar, Simon, and Valentino. December 1994. “Does Attack Advertising Demobilize the Electorate?” APSR 88:829-838.
Week 10 (Nov. 4, 2003) Public Goods, Collective Action & Coordination
Camerer Chapter 7
KR Chapters 2 and 3
Palfrey: "Conflict Between Private Incentives and the Common Good" in KP
Isaac, Walker, and Thomas: "Divergent Evidence on Free Riding" in KP
Dawes, Orbell, Simmons and Van de Kragt: "Organizing Groups" in KP
Ferejohn, Forsythe, Noll, and Palfrey. “An Experimental Examination of Auction Mechanisms for Discrete Public Goods” in KP
Week 11 (Nov. 11, 2003) Fairness, Reciprocity, and Social Preferences
KR Chapter 4
Charness and Rabin. August 2002. “Understanding Social
Preferences with Simple Tests.” QJE 817-870.
Bolton and Ockenfels. March 2000. “ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition.” AER.
Fehr and Schmidt. August 1999. “A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation.” QJE.
Week 12 (Nov. 18, 2003) "Culture," Trust, & Subject Pools
Camerer Chapter 2.3-2.9
Gintis et al. 2001. “Cooperation, Reciprocity, and Punishment in Fifteen Small-Scale Societies.”
Bohnet, Frey, and Huck. March 2001. “More Order with Less Law: On Contract Enforcement, Trust, and Crowding.” APSR.
Glaeser, Laibson, Schankman, and Soutter. August 2000. “Measuring Trust.” QJE 831-846.
Andreoni and Vesterlund. February 2001. “Which is the True Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism.” QJE 293-.
Roth et al. 1991. "Bargaining and Market Behavior in Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo: An Experimental Study."
Marwell and Ames. 1981. "Economists Free Ride, Does Anyone Else? Experiments on the Provision of Public Goods, IV."
Chin, Bond, and Geva. May 2000. “A Foot in the Door: An Experimental Study of PAC and Constituency Effects on Access.” JOP 62(2):534-549.
Week 13 (Nov. 25, 2003): Signalling, Information, and Democracy
Camerer Chapter 8.
Palfrey and Kinder, "Signal and Noise in Democratic Conversation" in KP.
Potters and van Winden. 1996. “Comparative Statics of a Signalling Game: An Experimental Study.” IJGT 25:329-353.
Week 14 (Dec. 2, 2003) Student Presentations
AER = American Economic Review
AJPS = American Journal of Political Science
APSR = American Political Science Review
IJGT = International Journal of Game Theory
JOP = Journal of Politics
QJE = Quarterly Journal of Economics