Complexity Preferences over Information Search Methods

Last registered on October 25, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Complexity Preferences over Information Search Methods
Initial registration date
October 19, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
October 25, 2022, 10:50 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

University of Queensland

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Queensland
PI Affiliation
University of Queensland
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
People have preferences over complexity, as shown in previous studies of complexity preferences over gambles. However, complexity preferences over information methods – ways of receiving information about the state of the world – have not been studied. This is despite the ubiquity of situations where people have a choice between information methods. In this experiment, preferences over complexity of information methods are measured by participants making choices between pairs of information methods that differ in informativeness and/or complexity. After choosing an information method, they then use it in a ball-and-urn belief updating task to estimate the probability that a particular urn was chosen. Differences in choices between pairs of information methods allow observation of complexity preferences.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Friesen, Lana et al. 2022. "Complexity Preferences over Information Search Methods." AEA RCT Registry. October 25.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Choices over information methods that differ on complexity and/or informativeness
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This economic lab experiment measures complexity preferences between different information methods. Information methods are any way of receiving information about the world. In this experiment, the information methods are sets of two urns mapped to different states of the world, and filled with different coloured balls. The information methods differ in the informativeness of signals they provide and the complexity of using the information method. Participants have an opportunity to use each information method in a belief updating task in the first part of the experiment. Then in a later part of the experiment, they are presented with pairs of information methods that differ in their informativeness and/or complexity, followed by using the chosen information method in a belief updating task. Participants play six pairs of information methods, repeated over four stages. At other points in the experiment, the participants are also asked about their level of anxiety and confidence in themselves; their mathematical ability; their risk preferences; and general demographic factors. The perceived complexity of the information methods used is also measured.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomisation is done by computer.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
At least 60 (a cluster per participant)
Sample size: planned number of observations
At least 60 participants providing a minimum of 4 rounds of 6 choices, for a total of at least 1440 observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
At least 60 participants, all playing the same 6 within treatments (choices between information methods)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Queensland BEL LNR
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
2022/HE000712 v4.01


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials