The moral circle

Last registered on June 22, 2016


Trial Information

General Information

The moral circle
Initial registration date
June 22, 2016

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 22, 2016, 6:42 AM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

The Norwegian School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
The Norwegian School of Economics

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
How people draw the moral circle that defines whom they include in their moral considerations, is at the heart of the most pressing policy challenges facing the world today and strongly related to the question of global fairness. Large inequalities between countries and an increasing number of migrants are pervasive features of the modern world that raise the profound question about who we are morally obligated to help. Do people perceive there to be particular moral obligations between citizens within a country and, if so, what are the constituents of these obligations? These questions are also of great importance in the climate debate, where it is essential to understand
which moral obligations people believe they have towards future generations.

The ambition of this research project is to study to what extent an important type of relationships, collaboration for mutual benefit, is seen to give rise to distributive obligations and to what extent such collaboration creates an asymmetry in the obligations that exist within and between
groups of individuals who collaborate.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Cappelen, Alexander, Varun Gauri and Bertil Tungodden. 2016. "The moral circle." AEA RCT Registry. June 22.
Former Citation
Cappelen, Alexander, Varun Gauri and Bertil Tungodden. 2016. "The moral circle." AEA RCT Registry. June 22.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The main dependent variable in the analysis will be the amount transferd by a spectator to an individual who has lost his earnings from another individual who has not lost his or her earnings.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We examine the distributive behavior of an independent third party, a spectator, who is asked to determine the distribution of income between two individuals. Both individuals have done the same assignment, but one of them has been unlucky and lost his or her earnings.

We will conduct four treatments that only differ with respect to whether or not the two individuals affected by the spectator's decision
is from the same group or not, and with respect to whether the individuals worked independently on the assignment or
whether they collaborated on the assignment with the others in their group. Our design thus allows us to compare inequality acceptance within and between groups and to study how inequality acceptance depends on whether the groups are minimal or collaborative.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is done by computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1000 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
1000 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
250 individuals in each of the treatments.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
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