Do Punishments Affect Willingness to Report?

Last registered on June 05, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Do Punishments Affect Willingness to Report?
Initial registration date
May 29, 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
May 30, 2024, 4:06 AM EDT

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

Last updated
June 05, 2024, 8:58 AM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

University of California Merced

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of California, Merced

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Punishment is commonly used by lawmakers to deter criminal behavior. Punishments do not just punish offenders, but they also deter other people from committing the same crimes. In monitoring and investigating crimes, the inside knowledge or tips provided by private citizens who have knowledge of the crime offer valuable information to the authority. However, it is unclear about the relationship between the severity of punishment and likelihood of reporting crimes. In this study, we examine whether the severity of sanctions will affect people’s decision to report crimes.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Lam, Quy and Ketki Sheth. 2024. "Do Punishments Affect Willingness to Report?." AEA RCT Registry. June 05.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Reporting of subjects (i.e., managers) who break the law (Decision by Employees)
Deciding to break the law given information on reporting rates by employees (Decision by Manager)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Deciding to break the law when given no information on reporting rates by employees (Decision by Manager)
Beliefs on how many managers will break the law
Beliefs on how many employees will report law-breaking managers
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We employ an experimental game in which subjects are assigned to be "employees" that are part of a "firm" or members of the "public".
For those assigned to be members of the firm: In the first round of the game, the firm members are given a task in which their payouts are a function of their own and their co-workers' performance. In the main stage of the game, one subject is randomly assigned to become the firm's "manager". As before, payouts in this stage are based on the performance of all members, but the "manager" has an opportunity to "break the law". Breaking the law benefits members of the firm, but harms members of the public. We randomly assign the severity of the penalty for breaking the law across firms, our key treatment variable. We conclude the experiment with a series of survey questions.

Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done using Lioness platform
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
No clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
700 individuals (560 employees, 140 managers). This sample size is based on our budget for the experiment. However, we will continue to recruit participants until we deplete our budget.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
233 individuals per treatment arm (i.e., 3 treatment arms with equal probability for assignment)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
UC Merced Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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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