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Research at the CLER

Research conducted at CLER covers a wide range of topics, including behavioural economics, fairness and reciprocity, team decision-making, auctions and markets, labour and health economics, and organisational design.

Experimental Economic Research at CLER

The Cologne Laboratory for Economic Research is concerned with the empirically guided further development of economic theories and the analysis of economic and social institutions. The goal of experimental economic research with the help of interactive, economic decision-making experiments is to better understand human decision-making behaviour. The predictions of economic theories are tested and further developed in experiments. Real or envisaged institutions can also be tested in laboratory experiments. Finally, laboratory experiments can also be used in teaching.

Possible research questions

Thematically, a variety of questions are investigated in the Cologne laboratory. For example, which fundamental motives influence behaviour in economically relevant situations. Or in what way the rationality of real decision-makers differs from that of homo economicus, who populates the economic model worlds.

A complementary research focus examines the extent to which the limits of cognitive abilities and egoistic motives influence real economic behaviour. On the one hand, the aim is to investigate the reciprocal effects of social preferences and bounded rationality. On the other hand, the research aims at understanding and modelling the structure of economic rules and regulations.

Experimental design

In addition to the laboratory, the experiments are currently being conducted increasingly online. With a network consisting of 68 computers, the Cologne laboratory is one of the largest and most modern of its kind in Germany. Through the use of world-leading software, it offers the possibility to conduct interactive experiments completely digitally.

The "design" of an experiment means the specification of the underlying "game", its parameters and the monetary incentives. Preferences, technologies and other economically relevant parameters can be perfectly induced and controlled. Often, only one parameter is changed to compare two different situation constellations. Thus, changes in the behaviour of the test subjects can be traced back to exactly this one parameter.

This allows important conclusions to be drawn about the nature of economic behaviour and the performance of markets and other institutions. The research goal is to develop modern, practical algorithms to improve marketplaces and other economic or social institutions.