Theory and Decision

, Volume 86, Issue 1, pp 65–93 | Cite as

Experience in public goods experiments

  • Anna ConteEmail author
  • M. Vittoria Levati
  • Natalia Montinari


Using information on students’ past participation in economic experiments, we analyze whether behavior in public goods games is affected by experience (participation in social dilemma-type experiments) and history (participation in experiments different from social dilemmas). We find that: (1) on average, the amount subjects contribute and expect others to contribute decreases with experience; (2) at the individual level, the proportion of unconditional cooperators decreases with experience, while the proportion of selfish people increases. Finally, history influences behavior less than experience. Researchers are urged to control for subjects’ experience and history to improve the external validity and replicability of results.


Public goods experiments Social preferences Mixture models Experience History 



We gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena (Germany).

Supplementary material

11238_2018_9670_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (160 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 160 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Statistical SciencesSapienza University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Economic SciencesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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