Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Rebecca B. Morton & Kenneth C. Williams
Laboratory experiments are used in political science to empirically test the results and assumptions of formal models. These types of experiments are conducted using human subjects in a specific location, usually in a computer laboratory, where the experimenter has complete control over the experimental environment. These types of experiments often use a computer interface to deliver the experimental stimuli to subjects. For example, laboratory experiments are used to empirically test formal models of elections, committees, bargaining, and other political topics. This entry presents some of the special features and advantages of this method. Formal models are mathematically defined and derived by assumptions where the assumptions (sometimes) result in an equilibrium prediction. In formal models, the assumptions are of two types: assumptions about institutional and other exogenous factors such as voting rules, bargaining procedures, preference distributions, and so forth, and assumptions about the behavioral choices of the political actors in the ...