Born That Way: Fairness Considerations about Genetics

Last registered on January 12, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Born That Way: Fairness Considerations about Genetics
Initial registration date
January 12, 2024

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
January 12, 2024, 3:48 PM EST

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



Primary Investigator

Erasmus University

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.
Meritocratic fairness dictates that rewards should be based on performance, while external circumstances should not be taken into account in the attribution of merit. However, it is often hard to disentangle performance and circumstances. An example of this is given by genetics, which can be thought of as a lottery happening at birth that has a considerable impact on later performance. I investigate whether individuals' fairness considerations are sensitive to differences in genetics. In an online incentivized experiment, third parties can redistribute earnings between two workers that performed a mathematical task. Across two treatments, beliefs about the importance of genetics in completing the mathematical task are modified through an information treatment.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Pogliano, Andrea. 2024. "Born That Way: Fairness Considerations about Genetics." AEA RCT Registry. January 12.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Redistribution Decision in Task 2.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Score about importance of: genetics, control, responsibility, fairness
Redistribution Decision in Task 1
Petition Question
Beliefs about other traits
Answer to the Petition statement
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
I employ the paradigmatic spectator-worker design to (i) establish an experimentally controlled scenario of inequality between two workers and (ii) examine the money redistribution among spectators. This study centers on understanding how spectators make decisions regarding redistribution when presented with experimentally varied information about the influence of genetics on generating the observed inequality.
Experimental Design Details
Workers are hired on Prolific and asked to complete 10 questions from the Arithmetic Reasoning and Mathematics Knowledge sections of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). Afterward, workers are assigned to pairs and the better performer within the pair is assigned a bonus.

Spectators are hired on Prolific. Their main task is to redistribute the workers' earnings. They are asked to do so twice, once without any additional information and once after receiving information about the heritability of mathematical ability. The estimates about the heritability of mathematical ability are experimentally manipulated by providing different estimates from the genetic literature. Thus, the design systematically varies the beliefs of the individuals about the importance of genetics.

See the analysis plan for further details.
Randomization Method
Randomization is done by the Qualtric software in an online survey
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
340 workers 510 spectators
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
255 spectators per treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Erasmus School of Economics IRB-E
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

There is information in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access.

Request Information


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