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By Amiel Y., Cowell F.A.

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We could even imagine generating a substantially new game with different rules: we could use the same counters and the same board to play a game like ‘fox and geese’. What we do not allow is the opportunity for players to remake the rules as they go along, or just to kick over the board. So too with economic experiments: the ‘rules of the game’ define not just one particular experiment, but a class of experiments which could be run, and therefore a class of economic questions which could be addressed.

Part of the reason An investigative strategy 21 could be that the techniques involved are perceived as principally belonging to other disciplines and that, on the whole, economists are fairly self-assured about the validity of their own methods: ‘economists on the whole think well of what they do themselves and much less well of what their professional colleagues do’ (Galbraith 1971). Nevertheless, if we as economists are to be involved in making policy recommendations on taxation or other measures that affect individual incomes, or if they are to interpret trends in income distribution, then we may just have to take on board methodologies that appear at first sight to be alien.

However, early experiments with conventional pie charts proved to be unsatisfactory (respondents found it difficult to distinguish the sizes of relative pie slices). The diagrams that we use extensively in this book were not invented until we had collected most of the evidence in numerical and verbal forms. 5 See Schuman and Pressler (1981, ch. 4). 6 In other types of questionnaire study on distributional issues, non-student opinions have been found to be consistent with the opinions of student samples; see Schokkaert and Capeau (1991), Schokkaert and Devooght (1995), Schokkaert and Lagrou (1983), Schokkaert and Overlaet (1989).

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