Representative evidence on the endogeneity of moral assessments and beliefs
Last registered on April 30, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Representative evidence on the endogeneity of moral assessments and beliefs
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004152
Initial registration date
April 29, 2019
Last updated
April 30, 2019 9:15 AM EDT
Location(s)

This section is unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2019-05-06
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In this project, we investigate the extent to which people manipulate their views on morality and fairness, and their factual beliefs in a self-serving way. We implement an online-survey experiment among a representative sample of adults aged 18 years and older in Germany. Each subject is randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups, and completes two consecutive stages. In stage 1 of treatment 1, the subject divides a fixed endowment of Experimental Currency Units (“Lifepoints”) between herself and a charity which supports children with low educational success. In stage 2, the subject completes a questionnaire about (i) the morality and fairness of supporting children with low educational success, and (ii) beliefs about the reasons, consequences, and improvability of (low) educational success. Treatment 2 is identical except for the fact that the allocation task in stage 1 is between other survey participants (instead of the subject herself) and the charity. By comparing responses in stage 2 between treatments 1 and 2, we assess whether moral assessments and beliefs change to justify previous selfish choices. Treatment 3 is identical to treatment 1, except for the fact that the order of stages is switched (stage 1: questions and moral and beliefs; stage 2: allocation task between subject herself and charity). Comparing allocation decisions between treatment 1 and 3 allow us to investigate the extent to which allocation decisions are affected by preceding (moral) introspection. At the same time, responses in stage 1 of treatment 3 provide a benchmark for moral assessments and beliefs which is uncontaminated by preceding allocation decisions.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Grewenig, Elisabeth et al. 2019. "Representative evidence on the endogeneity of moral assessments and beliefs." AEA RCT Registry. April 30. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4152/history/45724
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We investigate whether people manipulate moral assessments and beliefs to justify self-serving behavior. Subjects complete a questionnaire on (i) the morality and fairness of supporting children with low educational success and (ii) beliefs about reasons, consequences, and improvability of (low) educational success. Depending on the experimental group (control group or treatment 1), subjects play one of two versions of a dictator game prior to the questionnaire. The receiver in the dictator game is a charity supporting children with low educational success, and the experimental groups differ in the extent to which the dictator game allows selfish allocations. The design enables us to study the endogeneity of morality views and beliefs with respect to previous actions. In a second treatment, subjects first complete the questionnaire and only then play the dictator game where they allocate an endowment between themselves and the charity. This treatment allows us to study the reverse channel, namely the endogeneity of dictator-game giving with respect to prior (moral) introspection.
Intervention Start Date
2019-05-06
Intervention End Date
2019-06-13
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcomes of interest are subjects moral assessments and beliefs (elicited in the questionnaire).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Questionnaire on morality, fairness and factual beliefs about educational success.

[Question wording:]
“To what extent do you agree to the following statements on the educational success of children?”

[Items:]
1. “It is our moral obligation to support children with low educational success.”
2. “It is fair to provide special support to children with low educational success.”
3. “Low educational success is mostly due to lack of children’s effort.”
4. “Low educational success is mostly due to reasons beyond children’s control.”
5. “Educational success is important for the students’ future.”
6. “Efforts to support children with low educational success are mostly ineffective.”

[Explanation of items: 1-2: Moral assessment; 3-4: Beliefs about sources of poor educational performance; 5-6: Beliefs about importance and improvability of educational success. In the analysis, we will create three indices (containing two items each, one for each category).]

[Answer categories:]
5-point scale: 1=”completely agree”, 2=”somewhat agree”, 3=”neither agree nor disagree”, 4=”somewhat disagree”, 5=”completely disagree”
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Dictator-game behavior.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Allocation of 60 Lifepoints between oneself (treatments 1 and 3) or other survey participants (treatment 2) and a charity supporting children with low educational success.

[Answer category]

O 60 Lifepoints for [recipient] / 0 for the charity
O 50 / 10
O 40 / 20
O 30 / 30
O 20 / 40
O 10 / 50
O 0 Lifepoints for [recipient] / 60 for the charity”
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We conduct the experiment in a sample of 4,000 adults aged 18 years and older. The survey is conducted in cooperation with a renowned German survey institute, KANTAR Public. The recruitment and polling is managed by KANTAR Public, who collect the data via an online platform. That is, our participants answer the survey questions autonomously on their own digital devices. Randomization is carried out by KANTAR Public at the individual level, using a computer.

Our experiment is structured as follows:
Respondents will be randomly assigned (between subject) to control group1 (p=1/3), treatment 1 (p=1/3) or treatment 2 (p=1/3).


Control group:
Stage 1: Dictator game (oneself versus charity).
Stage 2: Questionnaire on morality, fairness and factual beliefs about (low) educational success.

Treatment 1:
Stage 1: Dictator game (other participants versus charity).
Stage 2: Questionnaire on morality, fairness and factual beliefs about (low) educational success.

Treatment 2:
Stage 1: Questionnaire on morality, fairness and factual beliefs about (low) educational success.
Stage 2: Dictator game (oneself versus charity).
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is carried out by the survey company KANTAR Public, using a computer.
Randomization Unit
at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
4,000 individuals (aged 18 years and older)
Sample size: planned number of observations
4,000 individuals (aged 18 years and older)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
4,000 individuals, 1/3 (app. 1333) will be assigned to each of the three experimental groups.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number