University of Pittsburgh
June 5, 2003

Pitt Hosts International Conference on Experimental Economics

Guest speakers include Nobel laureate Vernon Smith

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh Department of Economics will host an international group of scholars, including a 2002 Nobel laureate, at the 2003 International Meeting of the Economic Science Association (ESA) June 20-22 on Pitt's Oakland campus. Three days of lectures and presentations at David Lawrence Hall will focus on experimental economics, in which economists test theories in a controlled laboratory environment rather than by observation in the field. Economic research relies increasingly on data collected in a lab.

The conference, targeted to faculty and graduate students but open to the public, will showcase the Pitt-based Pittsburgh Experimental Economics Laboratory (PEEL), located at 2L11 Posvar Hall and considered to be one of the world's leading centers of its type.

Conference speakers include Vernon Smith, professor of law and economics at George Mason University, who, along with Daniel Kahneman, professor of psychology at Princeton University, won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Science. Smith's talk is Saturday, June 21, from 5-6 p.m. in David Lawrence Hall. A complete conference schedule is available at

Smith pioneered the field of experimental economics, which has given economists a deeper understanding of the actual workings of real world markets. He established the methods of experimental research as well as the notion that market institutions are important in driving the decisions that individuals make. "Just as in physics and biology, economists have laboratories too," says John Duffy, Pitt professor of economics and PEEL director. "We bring people together in the lab, ask them to make decisions with money at stake, observe what they do and compare their behavior with the predictions of economic theories."

Other conference speakers include Vincent Crawford, professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego; Jack Ochs, Pitt professor of economics; and Larry Samuelson, professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The ESA is a professional organization devoted to economics as an observational science, using controlled experiments to learn about economic behavior.