Mindfulness and Economic Decision-Making

Last registered on June 10, 2019


Trial Information

General Information

Mindfulness and Economic Decision-Making
Initial registration date
May 30, 2019

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
June 10, 2019, 7:16 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator

University of Warwick

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University fo Warwick
PI Affiliation
University of Warwick
PI Affiliation
ETH Zurich

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We develop an experiment designed to shed light on the role of meditation in influencing the role of four behavioural biases often studied in economics: identity priming; self-control problems; heuristic biases; and egocentric biases (distorted beliefs about self/others). However, different types of meditation may affect behaviour in different ways through a differential impact on issues like attention; body awareness; emotion regulation; and self-perspective. We formulated an RCT design with interventions that target these biases, with a particular focus on attention and self-perspective. Our RCT design will make use of two treatments (sessions that promote mindfulness) and an active control (sessions devoted to general stress management) to analyse the differential effects of attention/insight meditations on the four domains of decision-making (measured using experimental methods in seperate laboratory sessions).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Ash, Elliot et al. 2019. "Mindfulness and Economic Decision-Making." AEA RCT Registry. June 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4257
Former Citation
Ash, Elliot et al. 2019. "Mindfulness and Economic Decision-Making." AEA RCT Registry. June 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4257/history/47807
Experimental Details


We will recruit from general public and students, advertising courses for stress reduction. Some will be randmoized to sessions that focus on mindfulness, others to sessions that focus on more general stress-reduction methods. They will all also undertake tasks in the laboratory designed to allow us to measure the key outcome variables and various useful controls.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Lying-aversion, system 1 bias, trust and reciprocity, ego utility (overconfidence, my-side bias), identity, time preference and risk preference.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Lying-aversion: Number of people reporting 3 or more heads out of 5 coin flips in the truth-telling task
System 1 bias: Number of correct answers to a set of heuristic bias questions; difference in responses to framing and anchoring
Trust and reciprocity: Number of people who choose to trust in the trust game; Amount returned by trustees in trust game
Ego utility (Overconfidence, My-side bias): Average estimated ability in logic puzzle task after voluntary stopping of practice; success rate among those who choose the logic puzzle task; difference in self-estimated and actual performance in the logic puzzle task; bias in argument evaluation towards own favoured statement
Identity: bias in allocation of tokens for strangers towards own gender
Time preference: preferred amount in 1 week compared to today, and in 5 weeks compared to in 4 weeks
Risk preference: response to the DOSPERT scale (Blais, A. R., & Weber, E. U. (2006). A domain-specific risk-taking (DOSPERT) scale for adult populations.)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Motivation(cost) of effort, strategic writing, sunk-cost bias, endowment effect, loss aversion, negative reciprocity and preferences for redistribution.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Motivation(cost) of effort: Number of points gained in real effort task
Strategic writing: Difference in percentage of trustor trusting when receiving a message from trustee with or without knowing the message would be sent to trustor
Sunk-cost bias: Number of people who choose to switch to a dominant lottery after wining the dominated lottery via real effort task
Endowment effect: Number of people who choose to exchange lottery ticket for extra payment after randomly assigned a lottery ticket
Loss aversion: Number of people who prefer lottery with positive but small expected value to 0
Negative reciprocity: Responses to hypothetical questions
Preferences for redistribution: Chosen distribution of tax burden among different income percentiles

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Subjects are randomized into the mindfulness (treatment) and stress-reduction (control) sessions. They receive 4 sessions covering various techniques linked to mindfulness (treatment) or general stress-reduction (control) as well as a number of laboratory-based tests designed to allow us to measure the various primary and secondary outcomes before and after the treatment/control sessions.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomisation by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
30 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
30 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
15 individuals in active control, 15 individuals in treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Using the results of the Probabilistic Reasoning subset (main reference for the system 1 bias questions) in Stanovich, West and Toplak (2016) as the outcome of control group (mean 11.2, SD 3.6), with power = 0.8, alpha=0.05 (adjusting for multiple testing), MDE is 5.163 (=a 46% increase) Stanovich, K. E., West, R. F., & Toplak, M. E. (2016). The rationality quotient: Toward a test of rational thinking. MIT Press.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Humanities and Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
HSS 40/18-19


Post Trial Information

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

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Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials