Second Major

Political Science


Atlas, Stephen

Advisor Department





Economics, behavioral economics, consumer choice


Field experiments enable economists to test whether theory adequately captures behavior in natural settings, or whether evidence supports reevaluating the reasoned abstractions comprising the theory. Economics, and social science more generally, has increasingly valued the evidence provided by field studies. These studies typically require a relationship with an external partner site providing the environment for the study, but existent research offers little guidance for developing these relationships and designing procedures for effective collaboration. The purpose of this paper is to provide greater insight into what is necessary to conduct field experiments in economics, particularly behavioral economics in private market settings. This insight is based on my observations made during the process of creating of a field study designed and conducted in partnership with a small business. I discuss how we approach a site, develop a procedure to meet the needs of both the research team and field partner, refine that procedure to overcome unexpected developments, and ultimately collect data to answer primary research questions in the field. My findings regarding the process of creating this original natural field study aim to assist the growing number of researchers conducting field experiments in partnership with private businesses and other organizations.