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Hawthorne Effect in Economic Games
Last registered on September 27, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Hawthorne Effect in Economic Games
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004174
Initial registration date
July 12, 2019
Last updated
September 27, 2019 11:55 AM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Texas A&M University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Texas A&M University
PI Affiliation
Texas A&M University
PI Affiliation
Texas A&M University
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-05-04
End date
2019-11-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Within this study we investigate if there is a Hawthorne effect from using eye-trackers in laboratory experiments. We will be using commonly used economic games accompanied by eye-tracking equipment at Texas A&M University. The games to be used include the Trust (investment) game (Berg et al., 1995), Risk games: Holt and Laury Lottery Choice game (2002) and Eckel and Grossman (2012) Lottery Choice game, Public Goods game (Andreoni, 1995), Dictator game (Anderson et al., 2018), Ultimatum game (Anderson et al., 2011), and Double Auction (market) game (Smith, 1964). Texas A&M students will be contacted to be subjects through the university “bulkmail” system. When subjects arrive at the laboratory, they will sign a consent form and choose a numbered disk of out a box. This number corresponds with the eye-tracking station number that they will be seated at. Half the subjects will have the eye-tracking equipment calibrated to their eye movements and the other half the subjects will not have eye-tracking equipment calibrated to their eye movements (but the equipment will still be present). Before each game, the equipment will be calibrated, or recalibrated, to the subjects. Subjects will play games and once complete will answer demographic survey and debrief. Upon completion, subjects will be paid their earnings in private.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Kee, Jennifer et al. 2019. "Hawthorne Effect in Economic Games." AEA RCT Registry. September 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4174-2.0.
Former Citation
Kee, Jennifer et al. 2019. "Hawthorne Effect in Economic Games." AEA RCT Registry. September 27. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4174/history/54256.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Treatment group: Eye-tracking calibration and recalibration during common economic game play.
Control group: Eye-tracking equipment present but not powered on or calibrated to the subjects during common economic game play.
Intervention Start Date
2019-06-01
Intervention End Date
2019-11-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Subjects playing the Trust game will not experience the Hawthorne effect from eye-tracking.
2. Subjects playing the Holt and Laury lottery game will experience the Hawthorne effect from eye-tracking.
3. Subjects playing the Dictator game will experience the Hawthorne effect from eye-tracking.
4. Subjects playing the Ultimatum game will experience the Hawthorne effect from eye-tracking.
5. Subjects playing Public Goods game will experience the Hawthorne effect from eye-tracking.
6. Subjects playing the
7. Subjects playing cheating games will experience the Hawthorne effect from eye-tracking.
8. Subjects playing the Eckel and Grossman lottery game will not experience the Hawthorne effect from eye-tracking.
9. Subjects participating in a double auction will not experience the Hawthorne effect from eye-tracking.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
When being viewed by the experimenter, subjects playing games with no potential of guilt, warm glow, or interactive effect will not change their behavior. This is relevant for the trust game, both risk lottery games, and double auction game. Playing games where behavior might be interpreted as selfish or self-serving may cause subjects to be more giving and more honest than they would be when not being observed. This is relevant for the Dictator, Ultimatum, Public Goods, and Cheating games. If we see for the multi-round games that the Hawthorne Effect diminishes from round to round, we will repeat this experiment with all games being multiple rounds to find at which point the
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Treatment group: Half of the subjects will sign a consent for to have eye-tracking equipment calibrated to their eye movements. Once consented, they will be continuously reminded of the eye-tracking equipment presence by the experimenter through re-calibration of the equipment before each game.
Control group: The other half of the subject pool will sign a consent that excludes language consenting for the eye-tracking calibration because the equipment will not collect data from them. The equipment will be present in the room but will not be powered on or be calibrated to the subjects. They will not experience re-calibration before each game but will listen to the experimenters’ instructions for the same time duration that it takes the treatment group (eye-tracking group) to be re-calibrated.
Experimental Design Details
1. The subjects will sign an informed consent. 2. Subjects will be assigned an ID number to keep their PII confidential. 3. Half of the participants will make economic decisions on the computer, which will non-invasively track their eye movement (see attachment for equipment details). The other half of the participants will make economic decision on the computer without eye tracking equipment. 4. Re-calibration will occur after every economic game for the subjects who have eye-tracking equipment. The other participants will sit and wait. 5. After the games end, payment will be disbursed based on the decisions they made during experiment. Payment is in private.
Randomization Method
Subjects choose station number to sit at by randomly picking number out of a box. Randomization done within games by z-tree program.
Randomization Unit
Individual randomization: Once subjects have consented in the laboratory lobby, they will choose a station number of a box. This is a random number between 1-16 corresponding to the 16 station numbers within the laboratory that the subjects may be seated at.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
400 student subjects.
Sample size: planned number of observations
7,600 decisions
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
400
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
128 subjects for 0.5 effect size and 80% power.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Request Information
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Texas A&M Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2019-06-11
IRB Approval Number
IRB2018-1602M
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, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS