Universität Bonn

Department of Economics / BonnEconLab

BonnEconLab: Laboratory for Experimental Economics

Founding Director

The Laboratory for Experimental Economics at the University of Bonn — BonnEconLab was founded in 1984 by Reinhard Selten (1930–2016). In the year 1994, Reinhard Selten was awarded, jointly with John C. Harsanyi and John F. Nash Jr., the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his contributions to the selection of equilibria in the theory of non-cooperative games.


Prof. Armin Falk is the current Director of BonnEconLab. Armin Falk has received two ERC grants and was awarded the Gossen Prize of the Verein für Socialpolitk in 2008, the Leibniz Prize of the German Science Foundation (DFG) in 2009, and the Yrjö Jahnsson Award of the European Economic Association in 2011.

Reinhard Selten
Reinhard Selten © Uni Bonn/Volker Lannert
Armin Falk
Armin Falk © Uni Bonn/ECONtribute


The BonnEconLab, the oldest institution of its kind in Europe, has a very lively and successful history. It is a central service unit of the Department of Economics. Many researchers of the Department of Economics as well as students of the Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE) conduct their experiments at the BonnEconLab. The BonnEconLab thereby plays an important role in the department’s research activities, and it contributes considerably to the education of the BGSE Ph.D. students as well as the department’s bachelor and master students.

The BonnEconLab is at the center of innovative research in experimental economics, as is documented by publications in top international journals and by considerable research funding (e.g., grants by the DFG and the EU). The research performed at BonnEconLab covers a wide range of topics, including

  • auctions and markets,
  • bargaining,
  • labor and health economics,
  • fairness and reciprocity,
  • team decision making ,
  • cross-cultural and intercultural experiments,
  • neuroeconomics.

Experimental economics is a method of creating empirical data in a controlled environment. Human subjects are given monetary incentives and make real decisions. Data are obtained in experimental sessions or in the field, with the controlled environment allowing for a more thorough analysis of subjects' behavior. Other methods of creating data – questionnaires, traditional field studies, or surveys – are additional information for analyzing behavior.


The BonnEconLab

  • supports the scientists of the Department of Economics in planning, designing and conducting their experiments,
  • is actively involved in teaching as an essential part of the bachelor, master and doctoral education (e.g., Bonn Graduate School of Economics—BGSE),
  • ensures successful experimental research, which is reflected in top international journals as well as in considerable third-party funding,
  • is a place of activity and host to a large number of renowned experimental economists,
  • is the starting point for the academic careers of numerous internationally renowned experimenters.

The BonnEconLab is thus at the center of innovative experimental economic research. Scientists who are committed to the rational-theoretical perspective work here, as do those who pursue boundedly rational research approaches.

At this point we would like to thank the German Science Foundation (DFG), the European Union, and the University of Bonn for their continuous support. Without their sponsorship, many important projects would not have been realized.

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