Promoting and facilitating experimental research by social scientists at the University of Oxford

About CESS

The Centre for Experimental Social Science (CESS) is dedicated to all areas of experimental social science research. With centres located in Oxford (UK), Santiago (Chile) and Pune (India), CESS has an international reputation for the promotion and facilitation of laboratory, online and in the field experiments across all areas of the social sciences.

CESS contains researchers from political science, sociology, social psychology, and economics. Our research is based on a highly interdisciplinary mix of methods, including laboratory, lab-in-the-field, online, and field experiments. Current research by members of CESS covers topics across the social sciences, including cheating and tax compliance across cultures, the dynamics underlying socially harmful traditions like female genital cutting, or the link between religion and social insurance in small-scale societies, as well as general research on experimental methodology. Nuffield College has a strong commitment to promoting cross-disciplinary research in the social sciences, and CESS is a major contribution to this mandate. CESS provides infrastructure for laboratory, lab-in-the-field, online and field experiments.

These centres give researchers the unique opportunity to conduct experiments with subject pools from three distinct regions: Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Moreover, all subject pools contain student subjects as well as non-student subjects from their respective local populations. CESS also supports a variety of fellowships, postdoctoral programs, seminars, summer schools, workshops, and conferences.CESS was founded at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, in 2008 and the Oxford lab remains the centre’s official hub. It is an important facility for researchers and students at the University of Oxford, as well as for experimentalists from around the world. The centre was awarded a Google Faculty Research Award in 2014 in order to develop software for conducting synchronic online experiments (enabling online subjects to interact with each other in real time). Recent experiments conducted at the Oxford centre have included a study for the Financial Conduct Authority on consumer shopping behaviour for retirement annuities, as well as research into judicial sentencing practices and tax compliance.

In 2015, CESS began a partnership with the Universidad de Santiago in Chile that resulted in the opening of a second centre: CESS Santiago. The Santiago lab has 25 experimental stations and nearly 2,000 subjects in its pool. Current experiments are examining topics of cheating, gender and competitiveness and behavioural finance.

Following on from the success of the launch of the Santiago centre, a third CESS facility was opened in Pune, India, in late 2016 in collaboration with FLAME University. CESS Nuffield-FLAME University has 34 lab stations, and in its first year has been focusing efforts on recruiting English- and Hindi-speaking subjects from within the region.

Cost, Credibility, and Relative Salience: Experimental Evidence on Corruption Voting

Mats Ahrenshop, affiliated graduate student of CESS, is attending the Sixth Annual Toronto Political Behaviour Workshop where he will do a poster presentation on 21 September 2018. He will present his paper: "Cost, Credibility, and Relative Salience: Experimental Evidence on Corruption Voting". Read more here.

Where Will the British Go? And Why?

What will attract the highly-skilled migrants from a post-Brexit UK? This paper examines the migration preferences of potential emigrants from the UK to determine whether the migration calculus is primarily economic or political. This is a CESS working paper. Read abstract and get link to full article here.

Choosing the Risky Option

Davide Morisi's research exploring the risk propensity of voters in referendum campaigns has been published in Public Opinion Quarterly. Part of the findings are based on data from experimental studies conducted in collaboration with CESS. Read the abstract and find link to full article here.


Prof Sverker Jagers

University of Gothenburg, Sweden


12:00 - 13:00

Large Scale Collective Action and State Intervention


Tanushree Goyal

University of Oxford


13:30 - 14:30

Attribution and Democratic Accountability : Evidence from Field experiment in Delhi


Bernhard Kittel

University of Vienna


15:30 - 16:30

The Transparency of Needs in Networks. Power, Knowledge and Altruism