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Fellow-Klasse 2023/24Prof. Dr. Christoph Vanberg

Arbeitsvorhaben am Marsilius-Kolleg

Investigating systematic sources of error in the design and interpretation of experiments in the natural and social sciences -- Experiments in Economics/Physics

A fundamental tool of the physical and social sciences are experiments to probe the ``laws’’ governing the system of interest. As any human endeavor, this is prone to errors. This project will investigate sources of error in designing and interpreting experiments. We focus on conceptual errors. Examples from physics and economics include experiments based on faulty calculations/simulations or approximations, and cases where the experimental design or the interpretation of results are based on a conceptually tenuous understanding of the relationship between models and reality. We will begin by conducting (largely informal) surveys among researchers in our respective professional networks. The goal will be to collect examples of such conceptual errors. Depending on what we find, we intend to take stock of the types of errors that occur within each subject area. Another goal will be to explore the extent to which researchers are aware of these problems. Next, we look forward to sharing our findings with fellows from other disciplines. We hope that this will spur a discussion in which we can share related experiences in the different disciplines, as well as strategies used to deal with these challenges. Such a discussion is likely to yield insights that can help improve the quality of experimental research in all fields. One possible product would be a joint paper summarizing these insights for an interdisciplinary and / or general interest audience. On the physics side we plan to start with specific proposals where doubts have already come up. Within economics, we intend to distinguish errors that stem form improper implementation of models or a failure to distinguish between results and interpretation.

Porträt Prof. Dr. Christoph Vanberg Fellow 2023/24


  • Experimentelle Ökonomik
  • Verhaltensökonomik
  • Politische Ökonomik



  • Ph.D. Economics, Cornell University 2005
  • M.A. Economics, Cornell University, 2004


  • Seit 2011: Professor (Finanzwissenschaft, W3), Alfred Weber Institut, Universität Heidelberg
  • 2010 – 2011: University Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Cambridge; Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge
  • 2008 – 2010: Junior Professor (Mikroökonomik, W1), Alfred Weber Institut, Universität Heidelberg
  • 2005 – 2008: Research Associate, Max Planck Institut für Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Jena

Ausgewählte Publikationen


Why do people keep their promises? An experimental test of two explanations, Econometrica, 76 (2008), 1467-1480.
Decision costs in legislative bargaining: An experimental analysis (with Luis Miller), Public Choice, 155 (2013), 373-394.
Legislative bargaining with heterogeneous disagreement values: Theory and experiments (with L. Miller and M. Montero), Games and Economic Behavior 107 (2018), 60-92
Experimental Evidence that Quorum Rules Discourage Turnout and Promote Election Boycotts (with L. Conraria and P. Magalhaes), Experimental Economics, 19 (2016), 886-909
Promise keeping and reliance damage (with Arjun Sengupta), European Economic Review 152 (2023), 104344.
Legislative bargaining with costly communication (with Anna Merkel), Public Choice 183 (2020), 3-27 Who never tells a lie?
Experimental Economics, 20 (2017), 448-459
Multilateral bargaining with subjective claims under majority vs. unanimity rule: An experiment (with Anna Merkel), Journal of Economic Psychology 95 (2023), 102601.
The dynamics of coalition formation - a multilateral bargaining experiment with free timing of moves (with J. Tremewan) Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 130 (2016), 33- 46
Playing hard to get: an economic rationale for crowding out of intrinsically motivated behavior (with W. Schnedler), European Economic Review, 68 (2014), 106-115.


Prof. dr. Christian Vanberg

Alfred-Weber-Institut für Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
E-Mail: vanberg@uni-hd.de