The Centre for Experimental Social Sciences (CESS) was created by Nuffield College in February 2008. Its principal goal is to promote and facilitate experimental research by social scientists at the University of Oxford. Nuffield College has a strong commitment to promoting cross-disciplinary scholarship in the social sciences and it sees this experimental initiative as making a major contribution to this mandate. In order to accomplish this goal the CESS provides a number of services to the experimental community: experimental lab facilities; staff and facilities for designing and implementing online experiments; a fellowship and post-doc programme; and regular seminars and workshops.
The Centre’s Experimental Lab facilities are located at Nuffield College. The laboratory is a state-of-the-art facility with 25 fully partitioned work-stations and a separate experimenter’s office. It is designed to support a wide range of experiments including those in which subjects are entirely separated from other participants; experiments in which subjects interact with each others; and experimental games in which subjects communicate anonymously but in real time.
The laboratory is open for use by both university staff members and other interested parties. The CESS maintains a subject pool consisting of students from the universities in the Oxford area. In addition, the Centre actively recruits non-student subjects to its pool. It will also be available to the undergraduate and graduate student body at University of Oxford. The Social Sciences Division of the University of Oxford is a supporter of the CESS and all units of the Division are CESS associated departments. The facility houses the Centre’s post-docs and research fellows.
Since its foundation in Oxford, the CESS has since opened two further centres: the first in Santiago, Chile, in collaboration with the University of Santiago and the second in Pune, India, with FLAME University. These collaborations are an important milestone in the CESS initiative that Nuffield College envisioned when it created the Oxford Centre, fulfilling Nuffield College’s Governing Body’s expectation that the CESS would facilitate experimental social science research around the world. With three centres in three continents, CESS researchers have the opportunity to collaborate on an international level to design and implement experiments with a global reach.
Title Need-based Justice in Social Exchange Networks Abstract We examine experimentally whether heterogeneous needs affect the distribution of outcomes in small and negatively connected exchange networks. We operationalize an individual need as a threshold of points an actor has to obtain in a negotiation in order to earn additional income in a subsequent real effort task. In contrast to previous[...]
Title: Using Goals to Motivate College Students: Theory and Evidence from Field Experiments Abstract: Will college students who set goals for themselves work harder and perform better? In theory, setting goals can help time-inconsistent students to mitigate their self-control problem. In practice, there is little credible evidence on the causal effects of goal setting for college students. We report the[...]
Title The Meaning of Property in Things (link to the paper) Abstract What is property, and why does our species happen to have it? In this paper I explore how Homo sapiens acquires and cognizes the custom of property and why this might be relevant to understanding how property works in the 21st century. I first support the claim that[...]
Title Strongmen or Technocrats? A Conjoint Experiment Testing Leadership Preferences in Afghanistan Abstract New democracies beset by political violence often opt for political settlements that draw informal power brokers and former combatants into formal leadership positions. However, there is little empirical evidence about how these political settlements are viewed by the public, and to what extent they may impact the[...]