Will of the Children

Last registered on April 02, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Will of the Children
Initial registration date
February 07, 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
April 02, 2024, 12:58 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

University of Zurich

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Southern California
PI Affiliation
University of Southern California
PI Affiliation
Stanford University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We conduct an adapted version of the study in Ambuehl and Bernheim "Interpreting the Will of the People:
Social Preferences over Ordinal Outcomes" adapted so children can participate. The research question is how children make decisions for groups of other children when a single option needs to be chosen for the group and the latter children have different preferences about which option would be best. We study whether the way in which children make these decisions changes with age.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Ambuehl, Sandro et al. 2024. "Will of the Children." AEA RCT Registry. April 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.12961-1.0
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Experimental Details


A benevolent party (a “Planner”) must make a decision that impacts the members of some group (“Stakeholders”). The Planner possesses reliable information about the Stakeholders’ ordinal preferences over the available options (“within-menu rankings”), but not about their cardinal preferences (intensity). How would the typical individual in the role of Planner determine the “best” choice for the group? In other words, what is the nature of social preferences over ordinal rank profiles?

We identify a reasonably large set of plausible aggregation rules. Each rule implies a distinctive fingerprint of implied best choices over the set of conceivable five-person three-option preference profiles. Second, we conduct an experiment in which subjects in the role of Planner make a series of decisions for groups of Stakeholders. We characterize choices by specifying a set of aggregation rules from the social choice theory literature and estimating what distribution over these rules best describes the distribution of choices made by Planners.

In our experiment, both Planners and Stakeholders are Spanish school age children. We examine how aggregation decisions change with age.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Distribution of aggregation rules used.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We will follow the methodology in Ambuehl, Bernheim "Interpreting the Will of the People
Social Preferences over Ordinal Outcomes." Instead or in addition to assigning rules to subjects using a Bayes classifier, we will also estimate a finite mixture model using the methodology of Ambuehl, Thysen, "Competing Causal Interpretations: An Experimental Study"

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Beliefs about cardinal utilities.
Pictorial big-5 personality inventory.
Video-based questionnaire about preferences for societal decison making.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
See field "Intervention (Public)"
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
All randomization will be done by a computer.
Randomization Unit
The treatment is the grade a student is in.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Will try to get all the students from the Lycée International de Los Angeles. Reasons for non-participation are (i) absence, (ii) failure to assent, (iii) the teacher preventing access. We expect between 35 and 65 students per grade.

We will enlist grades 4th to 11th for certain. Depending on availablility, we will also enlist grades 2 and 3, and 12, as well as up to 15 teachers.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Each subjects will make aggregation decisions for 10-14 preference profiles.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
See above.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Southern California IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number