New Experimental Research lab opens at the Australian School of Business

Tuesday, 6 April 2010  Features

Experiments to explore how consumers adopt new products, test the ability of managers to learn in complex environments, and determine levels of risk aversion, are just some of the research projects planned for the new Australian School of Business Experimental Research Laboratory launched recently.

Professor John Piggott​, Associate Dean, Research, at the Australian School of Business, said the state-of-the-art Lab will put UNSW at the forefront of experimental research and provide valuable opportunities to test theories and mechanisms across a range of disciplines.

"The ASB Lab, the largest of its kind in Australia, will allow researchers to uncover the patterns of human behaviour. The results will inform public policy and business in areas such as economics, marketing, accounting and organisational psychology," said Professor Piggott.

The Lab has 32 stations with touch-screen computers as well as 20 extra laptops that can be used for very large experiments, or as a mobile lab.

ASB Experimental Research Lab Director, Dr Ben Greiner, said that experiments in controlled laboratory settings allow researchers to discover the causal relationships between the economic decision environment and people's actual choices.

"In a facility like the ASB Lab the researcher can conduct real markets or auctions and test how changes in market and auction rules affect trading and bidding behaviour," said Dr Greiner.

The Lab is additionally equipped with galvanic skin response sensors to measure skin conductance, as well as instruments to track eye movement.

Dr Mathew Chylinski from the School of Marketing explains, "Decision making is often influenced by emotional reactions. Skin conductance is a very good proxy for emotions. Measuring it directly means that we don't have to rely on participants' potentially biased self-reports. Likewise, eye trackers allow us to observe the information people acquire - consciously or unconsciously - without having to ask them."

The breadth of experimental research topics at the Australian School of Business was demonstrated at the Lab launch ceremony where Dr Chylinski together with Dr Gigi Foster, from the School of Economics, and Dr Shayne Gary, from the School of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, showcased their research.