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Needs and empathy when deciding for others
Last registered on September 29, 2019


Trial Information
General Information
Needs and empathy when deciding for others
Initial registration date
January 04, 2019
Last updated
September 29, 2019 9:40 AM EDT
Primary Investigator
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Mälardalen University
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Risk taking on behalf of others is common in many decisions and has been the focus of recent research in economics, finance and psychology. Majority of the previous research involving experiments did not provide any information to the decision makers about those on whose behalf they make decisions. More recent studies focused on the effect of social distance (i.e., making decisions for oneself, a friend, or a stranger) on risk preferences (see, e.g., Montinari and Rancan, 2018; Batteux, Ferguson and Tunney, 2017; Zhang et al., 2017). Different from these, the current study aims to test the effect of needs of other people on risk attitudes and their degree of loss aversion when making risky decisions on behalf of others. For that purpose, we will randomly assign clients to decision makers either from an African country that is characterized by poverty or from a Western country that is characterized by prosperity. More precisely, in our study, participants from the US, who are going to be recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk, will make risky decisions for either themselves (control group), a person from England (treatment 1), or a person from the Gambia (treatment 2). Participants in the role of decision makers will be informed about the nationality of their clients.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Buturak, Gökhan and Emre Yildiz. 2019. "Needs and empathy when deciding for others." AEA RCT Registry. September 29. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3773-4.0.
Former Citation
Buturak, Gökhan, Gökhan Buturak and Emre Yildiz. 2019. "Needs and empathy when deciding for others." AEA RCT Registry. September 29. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3773/history/54323.
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Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Differences in the degree of risk aversion and loss aversion between decisions made for self, for another person from England and for another from the Gambia.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experiment is based on a between-subject design and consists of the elicitation of risk preferences using choice lists.
Experimental Design Details
The experiment is based on a between-subject design and consists of the elicitation of risk preferences using choice lists. The experiment will consist of a control group in which the participants make decisions for themselves, and two treatment groups in which the participants make decisions for another person either from England or from the Gambia. The choice lists in our experiment aim to elicit certainty equivalents for 8 different binary lotteries involving either only gains, only losses, or both gain and loss. The experiment is coded using oTree, a Python-based platform developed by Chen, Schonger, Wickens (2016). To maintain consistency in decisions, reduce the time required to complete each choice list and decrease noise in the data, we employ the Javascript code provided by Holzmeister (2017), which auto-completes choices along the list in a consistent manner. At the end of the experiment, we ask participants a set of questions that intend to elicit their other-regarding behavior, risk attitudes and degree of loss aversion. For loss aversion, we use two questions adapted from McGraw, Larsen, Kahneman, and Schkade (2010) and another from Engle-Warnick, Pulido and de Montaignac (2017)
Randomization Method
Randomization is done by computer.
Randomization Unit
Randomization was done at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
300 pairs of participants = 600 participants (300 of which will be in the role of decision maker).
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
About 100 pairs for each of the control and two treatment groups.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Manchester Metropolitan University, Business School Ethics Committee.
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)