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Image Concerns In Social Decisions
Last registered on April 06, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Image Concerns In Social Decisions
Initial registration date
April 05, 2018
Last updated
April 06, 2018 5:18 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
NHH- Norges Handelshøyskolen
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
By making decisions individuals reveal a part of their characters and dispositions to others and to
self. Finding an answer to why people refrain themselves from the actions which yield more utility
for them and engage in other-benefiting ones by bearing the cost (even pecuniary) is one of the topics
takes place in psychology and economics literature. Both fields provided explanations by using extrinsic
& intrinsic motivations, such as difference and inequality aversion, guilt aversion, the taste of
fairness and image concerns. People vote, engage in voluntary activities, make donations, and in the
experiments usually, give and share with others even when they don’t have to. Evidence from experiments
shows that when there are situational excuses, altruistic behavior decreases substantially.These
findings support the idea that the main driver of the altruistic decisions may not be a desire for fair/
altruistic outcomes but a desire not to appear bad either to oneself or to others. In other words, the
diagnostic utility of being seen as a good/fair person by self and by others might be the main motivation
behind other-regarding preferences. While experimental evidence confirms the importance
and effects of image concerns, to the best of my knowledge there is not enough evidence to see the
robustness of social decisions under these image concerns particularly in reciprocal decisions which
are richer in the moral context.The present experiment aims to capture whether if the estimated effects of image concerns can
be generalized to all social decisions by using a manipulated trust(investment) game.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Ay, Fehime Ceren. 2018. "Image Concerns In Social Decisions." AEA RCT Registry. April 06. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2798-1.0.
Former Citation
Ay, Fehime Ceren. 2018. "Image Concerns In Social Decisions." AEA RCT Registry. April 06. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2798/history/27727.
Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Social decisions under ignorance and information, willingness to get informed and to stay ignorant
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The main outcomes will show the effects of situational excuses and the desire to stay uninformed when being altruistic is costly.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The present experiment aims to capture whether if the estimated effects of image concerns can
be generalized to all social decisions by using a manipulated trust(investment) game. The effects of
the moral excuses will be observed through the actions of second movers who are randomly assigned
to roles and endowments and given the chance to hide information about the consequences of their
Experimental Design Details
Participants are matched into pairs and informed that they’re playing with another person in the same room. Endowments will be randomly distributed as 15 or 35 ECUs. All the players will be informed that there’s an equal chance for both endowment levels for them and their partners. In the first treatment, Hidden Information treatment from DWK(2006) will be implemented to the trust game setup. Players won’t be aware of their partners’ endowment levels. Player 1 will be informed that Player 2 can reveal information on Player 1’s initial endowment level. If Player 1 sends 10ECU to Player 2, Player 2 will make a decision on whether to learn Player 1’s endowment or not. Following that decision a BDM auction will take place to implement the revealing information decision. In the other two treatment games, the information on partner’s endowment won’t be given to the players and again Player 2s make decision on revealing Player 1’s endowment level or not. . The treatments will be focused on the trustee’s behavior on revealing the information about trustor’s endowment and will compare the willingness to get the information and to stay ignorant. . Design of the game is very close to Hidden Information in (Dana et al., 2007) with the exception of manipulation on revealing the information ex-ante and ex-post as in (Grossman and Van Der Weele, 2017). The timing of the experiment is as follows. At the beginning of each treatment t = 0, subjects are randomly paired and assigned to the roles as trustors and trustees and to the endowment levels as high and low. In t = 1 trustors decide to send 10ECUs or nothing to the trustees without knowing the endowment level of their partner. In t = 2 of the hidden information and ex-ante information treatments trustees decide to get the information I = 0;1 about the trustors’ endowment and if they don’t want to get that information they will attend in a BDM auction(b = 1). The trustors who want to get information won’t take place in the auction(b = 0). The bids in the BDM auction will give the continuous measure of willingnes to pay of to avoid information for each individual, k. That enables me to see how they value the avoidance. In t = 3 the auction will be resolved and the randomly chosen price will be announced to trustees. If they win information won’t be revealed and the price of avoidance k will be charged from trustees. If they lose information will be revealed and nothing will be charged. In t = 4, trustees make the distribution decision which is “a” in the self-signalling model and changes the xi􀀀xj. This decision is effected by the altruism level of the trustee q. Following the proposed models with that decision the trustee get a signal about her own type and the psychological utility of the signaled type is mq. Therefore, avoiding the information helps trustee to maintain her belief on her own type. On the other hand without the self signalling tool the trustee only decides by the altruism level of her. Since she knows the possible endowments in the first place even without the information she suffers from that possibility as in Eq. 2. In t = 5 final payoffs are realized and in t=6 players take place in the post-experiment questionnaire. In the ex-post information treatment, t = 4 change place in the order and goes before t = 2, after making the distribution decision without any information trustees are asked if they want to get information or not. In addition to the time order in the ex-ante game, after the auction a revision part will take place in ex-post game. Therefore, in t = 5 after the auction is resolved the player who receive information are asked if they want to revise their distribution decision. Trustors and trustees will not be informed about the revision part in advance. And as in the ex-ante treatment in t = 6 the final payoffs are realized and in t = 7 a questionnaire takes place (see fig.1). The main stages will be explained in a more detailed way in the following paragraph. Information & Auction In the first treatment, trustees who choose to get the information will attend an auction to realize that decision. The same mechanism takes place in other treatments as well: in the ex-ante /ex-post information treatments before/after the distribution decision, trustees will face a BDM auction to stay ignorant. Trustees will be told that they’re given additional 1ECU and over that amount they can submit their reservation prices if they want to get the information on their partner’s endowment, in the second and third treatment they submit reservation prices if they want to stay ignorant. After trustees submit their reservation prices, a price will be randomly chosen between 0-1ECU. If the bid is lower than the chosen price that subject loses the auction and don’t receive/receive the information, if it’s higher then the price will be taken from the subject and will be informed / ignorance situation will be kept. Not getting the information keeps the trustor’s endowment and final payoff hidden from the trustee, in the self image model decreases the psychological cost of that choice and protects the self-image in case of making an unfair decision. In the outcome based models the information avoidance has no lowering effects on the psychological cost of the decision since p and 1􀀀 p are known. Sending Back After receiving the sent amount from the trustor, trustee will make the distribution decision with/without knowing his partner’s initial endowment.To get a more detailed idea on the insights of the decisions first order and second order beliefs about the other party’s endowment and sending/sending back decision will be elicitated. Revision In all treatments subjects makes conditional decisions on the possible endowment levels of the trustor. Then, if they get the information in all treatments (if they win the auction in treatment 1 and loose in treatments 2 and 3) that conditional decision will be implemented. If they don’t get the information they will be asked to make another sending back decision. Other covariates like demographics, risk behavior, reciprocity etc. will be controlled in the questionairre by using the survey from Falk et al. (2016). Depending on the results of this experiment a second part of the idea will be conducted on social image effects. The self-image model seems to provide a very useful tool to understand social decisions. If it can be generalized to all social decisions the next step of the experiment will be to see the different effects of self and social image. In the model multiple self concept is used and it enables one to interpret the model in social image concept as well. In the self image there are two selves: the observer and the decision maker. Both are not aware of the type of the player. So the observer self can easily be interpreted as an other person. Although in the model self and social image seem to have the same effect, as B´enabou and Tirole (2006) they might be weighted differently in subjects utility. In short, even when there is no observer other than oneself, individuals engage in altruistic actions like voting or donating to charities, or avoid information which can possibly hurt their self-image like feedback on a homework or critics on the supported party etc. The present research idea with the second part of it intends to see the effects of these image concerns(if any) in social decisions.
Randomization Method
Randomization is done by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
450 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
450 participants for the lab experiment
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
150 participants in each 3 treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Norwegian School of Economics
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Boğaziçi University
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, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)