Cryptocurrencies: Experiments on Attitudes and Perceptions (Lab Experiment)

Last registered on September 04, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Cryptocurrencies: Experiments on Attitudes and Perceptions (Lab Experiment)
Initial registration date
August 31, 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
September 04, 2023, 6:51 AM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

George Mason University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
George Mason University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
Cryptocurrencies offer a new investment opportunity and potential form of money. There is much unknown about the typical characteristics of cryptocurrency owners, and this information could be beneficial to both government regulators and cryptocurrency companies. To uncover ownership characteristics we analyze participants’ knowledge of and openness towards cryptocurrencies. In a previous study, we evaluated unincentivized measures of the willingness to own cryptocurrencies after receiving a positive message about them. To test the validity of these unincentivized measures, here, we conduct a separate laboratory experiment with students from George Mason University. In addition to verifying the survey results, this experiment tests the effect of providing subjects with an initial payment in cryptocurrencies, to determine if this can overcome individuals’ aversion to crypto ownership. We also study how risk preferences and trusting behavior are affected by the incorporation of cryptocurrencies.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Mollerstrom, Johanna and Sarah Sylvester. 2023. "Cryptocurrencies: Experiments on Attitudes and Perceptions (Lab Experiment)." AEA RCT Registry. September 04.
Experimental Details


We are conducting a laboratory experiment to validate how effectively unincentivized measures capture an individual’s willingness to own cryptocurrencies.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcome of interest is a measure of the willingness to own cryptocurrencies, by making participants choose between Bitcoin and dollars. Participants make 12 decisions, choosing between 10 dollars and an increasing amount of Bitcoin. The amount of Bitcoin increases from $2 to $24 (in increments of $2).

We record this as a single number from 0-12 that represents the choice when participants are willing to choose the cryptocurrency. Since there are 12 decision nodes, we have 0 represent never willing (they never choose the cryptocurrency option) and 12 represent very willing (they choose cryptocurrency at the first decision node). The design of this measure, as well as the modeled switching point, is based on a modified Holt and Laury structure (2002).

One of the rows will be randomly selected and participants receive an amount of either dollars or Bitcoin as a bonus payment at the end of the experiment, based on their choices.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Our secondary outcomes of interest are the advantages and disadvantages of cryptocurrencies, as selected by participants. They may select multiple options, with the additional option to write their own answer. These serve to interpret the results from Outcome 1.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Our experiment is a laboratory experiment programmed in Qualtrics and run at the George Mason University ICES lab. The experiment is a 2x2 design with three treatment groups and one control group. Participants experience dollars or cryptocurrencies for initial exposure and then play with dollars or cryptocurrencies for the risk and trust games. The four groups are Control, CryptoInitial, CryptoGame, and CryptoBoth. The control group only interacts with dollars, receiving dollars as the start of the experiment and playing the games with dollars. All other treatments experience some direct interaction with cryptocurrencies. Participants in CryptoInitial receive cryptocurrency as an initial exposure, but play the risk and trust games with dollars. Participants in CryptoGame receive dollars as an initial exposure, but play the games with cryptocurrencies. Finally, participants in CryptoBoth receive cryptocurrency as their initial exposure and play the risk and trust games with cryptocurrencies.

At the beginning of the experiment, we award half of the participants a bonus payment of $3 in cash or and the other half a s dollars' worth of BTC (the cryptocurrency Bitcoin). We then get a measure of participants' general risk preferences and their knowledge of cryptocurrencies. We test their knowledge by asking them to correctly define cryptocurrency-related terms in multiple-choice questions, receiving a bonus of $0.20 for each correct answer. Participants are asked the Outcome Measures, to determine their willingness to own cryptocurrencies and their perceived advantage and disadvantages of cryptocurrencies. They then participate in two short games to determine how individual trust and risk preferences are affected by individuals playing with cryptocurrencies as opposed to dollars. Half of the individuals will play with cryptocurrencies and the other half will play with dollars. The trust game is a modified McCabe, Rigdon, and Smith (2003) and the risk game is a modified Gneezy and Potters (1997). Finally, the participants are asked standard demographic questions.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Qualtrics automatic treatment randomization
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
120 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
120 individuals, 30 individuals per treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Experiment on Trust and Use of Cryptocurrencies
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


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