section 1 (econ 278a)

1.  Testing Theories: Markets & Auctions

2.  How to Study a Behavioral Mechanism: Indirectly

3.  Application: Risk Aversion.

4.  How to Study a Behavioral Mechanism: Directly

section 2 (econ 278b)

5.   Induced Preferences:  The Harrison Critique

6.  How to Decompose a Behavioral Mechanisms

7.  Learning Theory & Experiments

9.  Cooperation & Matching

section 3 (econ 278c)

10. Public Goods:  Kindness & Confusion

11.  Bargaining & Social Preferences

12.  Infinitely Repeated Games

13.  Application:  Finite Mixture Models & Strategy Estimation

14.  Complexity & Procedures

15.  Coordination, Learning & Initial Play

econ 278
experimental economics

Professors Ryan Oprea & Emanuel Vespa, Fall 2019

Economics Department, UC Santa Barbara

The aim of this course is to introduce Ph.D. students to the major themes and motivations of modern experimental economics and to provide a strong foundation in experimental design and methodology.

vital information
  • Schedule: Monday and Wednesday 2-3:15 p.m.
  • Room: North Hall 2212
  • Office hours:  By appointment
  • Office: 3028 & 3024 North Hall
  • Email: &
the course

In this course we will trace the evolution of two prominent literatures -- the experimental markets literature and the experimental cooperation literature -- and use these stories to motivate the most important topics and open questions in modern experimental and behavioral economics.

One major goal of the course is to show how seemingly dissimilar topics in the field are in fact linked by common behavioral and psychological questions and  methodological principles (methodology).   Another major goal is to show how literatures advance from simple model testing to in-depth investigations concerning fundamentals of human behavior (mechanisms).

grades and assignments

Each five-week section will have two graded components:

1. Problem Set (50% of grade):  Each of the three sections will feature a problem set that will require you to carry out data analysis.  You will learn techniques for completing the problem set in the part of the section labeled "Application."  Problem sets are due at the very end of the five week section.

2.  Referee Reports (50% of grade):  In each section, you will write referee reports on three of the papers assigned as readings in the section.  These referee reports should be 3-6 pages and should (i) summarize the paper and its motivation, (ii) judge the paper's merits, providing criticism where necessary and (iii) discuss interesting extensions of the work.