Experimental Design Details
STEP 1: Consent
After reading a brief description of the task on MTurk, participants wishing to participate will click a link that takes them to a Qualtrics survey. The landing page of the survey is the consent form. Only participants providing their consent will continue with the study. Participants who do not provide their consent will be exited from the survey.
STEP 2: Attention/Integrity Check
Because this work is being performed on MTurk, we include an attention/integrity check to improve our chances of receiving high-quality data. Participants are asked to copy the following statement in the space provided and to do so using only capital letters
“While completing this task I will pay close attention to all questions and answer each to the best of my ability”
Participants receive two chances to correctly enter this statement. Participants who fail to correctly enter the statement on the second attempt are removed from the study.
STEP 3: Fundraising Appeal Messaging
Participants are then presented with basic information about the charitable organization, the Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI):
“The scenario you will encounter today involves the Children's Literacy Initiative (CLI). CLI is a non-governmental organization dedicated to children's literacy development. It was founded in 1988, headquartered in Pennsylvania. CLI mainly serves schools in largely under-resourced, low-income areas on the east coast with the mission to elevate the reading levels of primary school students. Note that the researchers are not associated with CLI.”
In addition to this message, participants receive a randomly assigned hypothetical fundraising campaign flyer along with the following message: “Suppose your friend is holding a fundraiser for the Children’s Literacy Initiative with a goal to raise $3000. Your friend sends you the fundraising flyer below.” The fundraising campaign flyers implement the experimental condition to which the participant has been assigned (see the attached images in the appendix). For these flyers, the altruism message states: “Empower children with a gift to Children’s Literacy Initiative. Help children grow into powerful readers, writers, and thinkers.” The warm glow appeal instead states “Feed your soul with a gift to Children’s Literacy. It feels good to make a difference in the life of a child.”
* AMENDMENT: With 5 additional conditions added to test baselines, substitution and modifications are made. In conditions without mentioning goal progress or information, the total goal amount or progress is not presented in the scenario description or on the flyer. For conditions without motivational messaging (appeal to altruism or warm-glow), the messaging on the flyer is substituted to "Donate today. Make a gift to Children’s Literacy Initiative." For goals-only conditions without motivational messaging, the flyer states "Donate today. Make a gift to Children’s Literacy Initiative. Help CLI reach its fundraising goal to continue its mission"
Upon viewing this flyer, the participant is asked to click on four areas on the fundraising flyer they find interesting. This activity is used as an attention check, to slow participants down to help them to pay more attention to the flyer (and, hence, the treatments), and to determine whether participants notice the study interventions (message, goal progress). Participants are then asked to report how likely they would be to donate on a scale from 0 (definitely would not donate) to 10 (definitely would donate).
Participants who state that their likelihood of donation as greater than or equal to 1 are considered potential donors and are asked to state approximately how much they would be willing to donate in whole dollar amounts. Participants who state they would not donate (likelihood rating = 0) are assumed to have an expected donation of $0.
STEP 4: Attitudinal Measures and Demographic Information
Next, we assess participants’ prosocial behaviors in the past 12 months through items adopted from the 11 prosocial acts from the General Social Survey (2022) Section G – Altruism. Engagement in each of the prosocial behaviors is measured on a 6-point scale ranging from “More than once a week” to “Not at all in a year.” For example, participants are asked to report how often they have donated blood, given money to a charity, etc.
Lastly, participants will be asked to report demographic characteristics including gender identity, religion, state of residence, education levels, employment status, income and race/ethnicity.
STEP 5: Payment and Debriefing
Although deception is not used in this study, participants are not informed about the various experimental conditions used or the hypotheses of the study, suggesting that a debriefing message may be indicated. However, MTurk users are known to communicate with other users through online message boards. To prevent communication between workers and the potential for contamination, participants will receive a message at the end of the survey that encourages them to reach out to researchers for debriefing information and a detailed debriefing form will be shared with them by email when the research is concluded. They will then be thanked for their participation and payment will be made to them using the Amazon account they have registered as an MTurk worker. The data collected will be stored in Qualtrics and will then be downloaded by researchers to a password-protected laptop into a password-protected file.