x

We are happy to announce that all trial registrations will now be issued DOIs (digital object identifiers). For more information, see here.
The Effect of Reactive Guilt on Economic Behavior: A Test of Willingness to Pay as Penance in the Demand for Ethical Consumption
Last registered on March 10, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Effect of Reactive Guilt on Economic Behavior: A Test of Willingness to Pay as Penance in the Demand for Ethical Consumption
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003985
Initial registration date
March 07, 2019
Last updated
March 10, 2019 10:46 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Skidmore College
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2016-10-31
End date
2018-05-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Guilt has been shown to affect economic choice, including propensity to engage in pro-social behavior. I use an experimental design with random assignment to examine the effects of guilt on a specific pro-social behavior, demand for goods with ethical attributes. The study uses hypothetical ratings of products to assess the premium assigned to organic, local, and monastic goods as compared to conventional alternatives and estimates the additional willingness to pay associated with guilty feelings induced through a writing exercise within the treatment group. Based on psychological and economic theory, it is expected that participants in the treatment (guilt) condition will assign a higher value to the ethical attributes. This work is part of a larger research agenda by the PI which seeks to better understand the implications of moral emotions on economic behavior, particularly pro-social behavior.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Goff, Sandra. 2019. "The Effect of Reactive Guilt on Economic Behavior: A Test of Willingness to Pay as Penance in the Demand for Ethical Consumption." AEA RCT Registry. March 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3985-1.0.
Former Citation
Goff, Sandra. 2019. "The Effect of Reactive Guilt on Economic Behavior: A Test of Willingness to Pay as Penance in the Demand for Ethical Consumption." AEA RCT Registry. March 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3985/history/42982.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Participants are asked to write about a recent experience in order to induce the intended emotional state.
Intervention Start Date
2016-10-31
Intervention End Date
2017-06-16
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Preference ratings, willingness to pay
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The entire study is conducted online, allowing individuals to participate from their preferred location using their own electronic device.
Participants begin by accepting the task on mTurk. Once they accept the task, they are automatically redirected to a Qualtrics survey. The landing page of the survey provides a basic summary of what individuals can expect from their participation (see attached). Individuals who decline to participate based upon this information are dropped from the study and do not receive compensation. Due to the online nature of the study, a show-up stipend would be inappropriate. Participants who wish to continue are directed to complete a three-part online survey.
Part I: Writing Prompt
In this first section, participants are directed to write about a recent experience for approximately 5-10 minutes. The subject matter of the writing assignment differs based upon random assignment by Qualtrics into either the control, emotional control, or the treatment group. Participants in the control are asked to write about a recent neutral event. Participants in the emotional control group are asked to write about a recent experience in which they did not feel guilty after provoking someone or making someone angry or mad. Participants in the treatment group are asked to write about a recent experience in which they experienced feelings of guilt after provoking someone or making someone really angry or mad. This methodology for inducing guilt is common (Cryder, Springer, and Morewedge 2012; Baumeister, Stillwell, and Heatherton 1995; Hermann et al. 2015).
Part II: Manipulation Check
This survey portion of the study poses questions which serve as a manipulation check. Participants are asked about the level of various emotions they felt as they wrote about their recent experience. Participants are able to skip questions within this section by clicking the box “I choose not to answer.”
Part III: Product Comparisons
In the third part of the study, participants will be asked to rate multiple products. Product descriptions will differ by attributes such as non-local/local, conventional/organic, non-fair-trade/fair-trade, secular/monastic, and price. These choices are hypothetical. Participants are not required or able to purchase these products as a part of the study.
Participants are not able to skip questions within this section of the study without withdrawing from the study. These questions do not ask for any sensitive information.
Part IV: Demographic Information and Purchasing Behavior
In this final part of the study, participants are queried about their age, educational attainment, gender identity, race/ethnicity, employment status, political views, geographic location and typical consumption patterns related to the product types described within the study.
Study Completion
At the end of the survey, participants are given the choice to submit their work or cancel their participation. Participants who choose to submit their work are given a thank you message and confirmation code. Participants enter their confirmation code into a form on mTurk to request payment for their participation. Participants who choose to cancel their participation are not provided a confirmation code. When making the choice to cancel their participation they are asked to make sure they want to cancel.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is performed automatically by Qualtrics.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
450
Sample size: planned number of observations
450
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
150 in each of three conditions
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Skidmore College Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2016-10-31
IRB Approval Number
1610-538
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers