More than other disciplines, economics focuses on the evaluation of counterfactual
scenarios, which help to analyze strategic decisions and their efficiency effects.
Counterfactuals, however, are not easily observable, not even in field experiments. On the other
hand, counterfactual scenarios in the conventional lab settings are often perceived as “sterile
environments” since they are not embedded in a natural frame (Harrison & List, 2004).
Experiments in immersive virtual environments can help us to test counterfactuals in an exactly
controlled but more realistic setup. In virtual reality, one could also model settings that would
be very costly or simply impossible to implement in the field, due to physical restrictions or
ethical reasons. Here we illustrate, by means of some examples, how experiments in immersive
virtual environments can add value to experimental economics and benefit economic research.
You can find the short paper here: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/66617/
Watch a short clip of an experiment conducted in virtual reality lab “aixCAVE” of the RWTH
Aachen University: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yt7wEMStOY. The paper of the
study you can find here: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2676628