The Charitable-Giving Value of Man's Best Friend: A Field Experiment
Last registered on November 27, 2017


Trial Information
General Information
The Charitable-Giving Value of Man's Best Friend: A Field Experiment
Initial registration date
November 26, 2017
Last updated
November 27, 2017 9:29 AM EST
Primary Investigator
Norwegian School of Economics (NHH)
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
East Carolina University
PI Affiliation
East Carolina University
PI Affiliation
Appalachian State University
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The purpose of this research is to test whether the presence of a canine at a well-known donation site elicits increased charitable donors and donation amounts. A potential mechanism for such an increase is that when eye contact is made with a dog, a powerful hormone, Oxytocin, is released. Existing studies have documented that higher levels of oxytocin increase charitable donations. We will build on a long strand of charitable giving literature in economics to test whether the reduced-form effects of canine presence on human charity.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Hochard, Jacob et al. 2017. "The Charitable-Giving Value of Man's Best Friend: A Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. November 27.
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Experimental Details
In the treated group, we present a dog along with a donation solicitor at a well-know street donation site. In the control group, only a donation solicitor will be present.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The portion of pedestrians who make a donation (extensive margin)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
The average amounts of donations collected within each 2-hour time increment at each location (intensive margin)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We will partner with the Salvation Army to run a natural field experiment in Greenville, NC from 11/27/17 to 11/29/17 (10:00am to 8:00pm each day) at three different collection sites (three entrances of a local Walmart). We will bring and remove dogs randomly in 1-hour increments at each of the 3 sites. These dogs will be those of the experimenters and the experimenter's faculty colleagues that are well-known to the experimenters and can be trusted in the public around people. Students will be hired as temporary research assistants to support data collection by "ringing bells" at each of the 3 collection sites as well as recording the number of donations made. The experimenters will also observe and oversee student participants.

The experimenters will record the number of pedestrians and the number of donors at each of the 6 sites. Dividing the number of donors by the number of pedestrians gives out first key outcome variable. The experimenters will switch out the locked "kettles" (donation container) every 1 hours with empty kettles and will deliver them to the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army will sum the money for each 1-hour site-session.
Experimental Design Details
The experimenters will record the entire solicitation processes with car dash cameras at each of the 3 sites. The cameras will be located in cars parked at a distance to avoid being seen by pedestrians or capturing pedestrians facial looks. The video will be analyzed to calculate the extensive margin. Also, the video allows us to extract data about the characteristics of individual pedestrians, such as gender, visible age and ethnical group, interaction with the dogs, etc. The experimenters will also record license plate associated with randomly-selected donors and non-donors (and based on parking lot exit of choice). License plate information will be recorded on a university-purchased Microsoft Surface tablet and uploaded each evening directly to the secure ECU pirate port server. The data will then be deleted from the portable device. License plate data will be used to record (i) vehicle value, (ii) vehicle MPG and (iii) recorded traffic citations, which are all publicly available data. These 3 indicators will provide useful proxy data for (i) income, (ii) eco-preferences and (iii) risk preferences, respectively. This entirely will be purely observational.
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
1-hour increments at each solicitation location
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
90 = 10 periods per day per location * 3 locations * 3 days
Sample size: planned number of observations
Total number of pedestrians
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
45 clusters in the treated group and 45 clusters in the control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Along the intensive margin, assuming the mean donation amount per 1-hour period is $17.67 in the control group with a standard deviation of $9.51, our sample size of 45 clusters per group allows us to detect an effect size of $5.62 at the 0.05 significance level with a power of 0.8. The mean and standard deviation are calculated using historical salvation army solicitation data at the same locations on the same dates.
IRB Name
East Carolina University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
UMCIRB 17-002445
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