Beyond labels: Exploring the impacts of stereotype-driven beliefs on cooperation, success attribution, and punishment

Last registered on June 24, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Beyond labels: Exploring the impacts of stereotype-driven beliefs on cooperation, success attribution, and punishment
Initial registration date
June 02, 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
June 24, 2024, 11:50 AM EDT

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


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Primary Investigator

Utrecht University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Utrecht University
PI Affiliation
Utrecht University
PI Affiliation
Utrecht 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.
This study examines the existence and direction of stereotype-driven effects in a cooperative setting. Performing a lab experiment with a 2x2 treatment design using a public goods game, the study examines three hypotheses. First, whether participants expect more cooperation from women than from men. Gender stereotypes commonly describe women as more communal and men as more agentic. Such ideas can result in a higher cooperative expectation being placed on women. Secondly, the study examines whether men and women receive equal credit when evaluated for a group's success. When feedback on individual performance is ambiguous, people often engage in "attributional rationalization": estimating an individual's responsibility for a group's success by their characteristics. If stereotypes play a role here, women should receive disproportionately more credit for a group's success than men. Finally, the study examines whether higher expectations come with a drawback by including costly peer punishment. High expectations can also lead to disappointment if group success levels are low. The study examines whether women are punished more harshly than men and whether this is dependent on the expectations held by the punisher.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

De Jaegher, Kris et al. 2024. "Beyond labels: Exploring the impacts of stereotype-driven beliefs on cooperation, success attribution, and punishment." AEA RCT Registry. June 24.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
- The expectations placed on other participants in the same group. Specifically, whether these expectations are higher for women than for men. Expectations are defined as the number of tokens contributed in a public goods game. We measure this by making participants estimate their fellow group members' contribution levels in an incentivized manner.
- Group success evaluation: After seeing a group-level success, are people more likely to attribute the success to men or women? Success attribution is measured similarly to expectations: by having participants estimate the contribution of group members to the group project. The difference with the previous point is that participants have received an ambiguous signal: they know the total group contribution when attributing success.
- Punishment: Participants can use costly peer punishment to reduce the earnings of other participants.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The study consists of a 2x2 treatment design implemented in lab experiments.

The experimental procedure is as follows.
We run a standard 4-player public good game with an endowment of 20 and a marginal per capita return (MPCR) of 0.4. We elicit individual beliefs about other players' contributions to the public good before and after they see the group contribution. Both belief elicitation stages are incentivized. The treatments concern the level of information on contributions that participants receive, as well as whether there is a possibility for punishment.

Each experimental session consists of five rounds of a public goods game. Each round consists of three or four stages: prediction, contribution, estimation, and punishment. Each round is performed in a group of four players. The punishment stage is only added in the punishment treatment condition.

In the prediction stage, participants are asked how much they think each of their fellow group members will contribute in the contribution stage. These predictions are incentivized: Participants can earn a bonus if they predict fellow group members' contributions exactly right.

The contribution stage is standard in a public good game: participants can choose to contribute between 0 and 20 tokens to a group project.

In the estimation stage, participants have to estimate again how much each fellow group member contributed. The difference with the prediction stage is that players now have information on the total group contribution level.

In the punishment stage, participants can reduce the earnings of other players. To do so, they can pay one token to reduce the earnings of another player by three tokens.

This experiment features a 2x2 treatment design:
- Punishment vs. No Punishment. The fourth stage is only included in sessions with the punishment treatment. In the no-punishment treatment, rounds end after the third stage.
- Full information vs. Limited information. In the full information treatment, participants are informed of the individual cooperation level of other players. They receive this information after the estimation task. Therefore, participants can make punishment decisions with more information in the "full information" treatment. In the limited information treatment, this addition is not present.

This experiment uses perfect stranger random matching. After each round of the experiment. participants are assigned to new groups.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Treatment will be assigned at the session level. This randomization is done through die rolls. It is made sure that each treatment occurs equally often.

Within a session, participants are grouped into groups of four for each round. There are five rounds in total. Participants are rematched using perfect stranger rematching.
Randomization Unit
Experimental session is the unit of randomization. Participants in the same experimental session all have the same level of treatment.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Before July 2024: 8 sessions of 20 participants per session. 160 participants in total.
Sample size: planned number of observations
160 participants. Most of them will be students at a University or a University of Applied Sciences
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Full info - Punishment: 2 sessions, 40 participants
Limited info - No Punishment: 2 sessions, 40participants
Full info - No Punishment: 2 session, 40 participants
Limited info - Punishment: 2 session, 40 participants
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Faculty Ethics Assessment Committee - Faculty of Law, Economics, and Governance (FEtC-REBO)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number