Social (P)references: A Study Of Peer-Dependent Reference Points

Last registered on July 23, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Social (P)references: A Study Of Peer-Dependent Reference Points
Initial registration date
March 21, 2023

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
March 30, 2023, 2:57 PM EDT

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

Last updated
July 23, 2023, 11:19 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
In contrast to standard economic theory, many economic experiments report peer effects on individual choices under risk, suggesting individuals have peer-dependent risk preferences. At the same time, tools to discuss peer-dependent risk preferences are limited and often arbitrary. Based on a model of peer-dependent reference points, we conduct two experiments -- a peer experiment and a control experiment. Building on a within-subjects design, participants will face Multiple Price Lists (MPLs) while merely observing what another participant (Peer) earns. We test peer effects on individual choice under risk in settings where ranks can and cannot reverse. We conduct another experiment to control for other confounding factors that could drive participant behavior.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Eisfeld, Thomas. 2023. "Social (P)references: A Study Of Peer-Dependent Reference Points." AEA RCT Registry. July 23.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Switching points in Multiple Price Lists (MPLs).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
There will be a peer experiment and a control experiment. In the peer experiment, participants will be randomly assigned a role: either a Decision Maker (DM) or a Peer. DMs will then be randomly paired with a peer and will face Multiple Price Lists (MPLs) where they can choose between a risky prospect and a safe amount of money. While completing these MPLs, DMs will see the earnings of their paired Peer on the screen. Peers will always earn a fixed amount of money. Hence, peer earnings act as a mere cue. Since we plan to test for differences in individual risk preferences between situations where social ranks can change and situations where social ranks are fixed, we will implement three treatment rounds in the experiment by varying Peer earnings: one, where DMs are ensured to be better off than their Peer, one where ranks can reverse (i.e., where Peer earnings fall in between what DMs can earn with the risky prospects), and one where DMs are ensured to be always worse off than their Peer. The order of the treatment rounds will be randomized. At the end, earnings from one round of the treatment stage will be picked at random to determine the final payoff that participants will received (together with a show-up fee). To reduce costs while allowing for sufficient flexibility in terms of design for each experimental session, two DMs will be randomly paired with one peer.

To account for other confounding factors (such as anchoring effects), we plan to run a control experiment. The control experiment will replicate the peer experiment, with the exception that Peers will be absent. To implement this, we will tell participant that at the beginning of the control experiment, they could have earned counterfactual earnings. We design these counterfactual earnings to match the peer earnings from the peer experiment and show them to participants in combination with the same MPLs from the peer experiment. Comparing the peer experiment with the control experiment then allows us to isolate peer effects on individual risk preferences.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
All randomizations will be performed by a computer in the lab
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
None but if needed, 8 experimental sessions
Sample size: planned number of observations
100 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
8 experimental sessions for both the peer and the control experiment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Commission of the Psychology Department at UCLouvain
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

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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