The moral circle
Last registered on June 22, 2016


Trial Information
General Information
The moral circle
Initial registration date
June 22, 2016
Last updated
June 22, 2016 6:42 AM EDT
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 et al. 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)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers