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First Stage 1: Following Instructions & Evaluating a Video
Last registered on September 19, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
First Stage 1: Following Instructions & Evaluating a Video
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004720
Initial registration date
September 18, 2019
Last updated
September 19, 2019 12:06 PM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
IUPUI
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2019-09-20
End date
2020-05-31
Secondary IDs
C93 Field Experiments (artefactual)
Abstract
An extensive literature in psychology has developed standard manipulations to increase, as well as decrease, empathic reaction. The objective of this experiment is to investigate whether these standard manipulations can succeed in increasing/decreasing empathic reaction to a video that could naturally be used in a campaign to raise funds for children who are confronting serious illnesses.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Ottoni-Wilhelm, Mark. 2019. "First Stage 1: Following Instructions & Evaluating a Video." AEA RCT Registry. September 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4720-1.0.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The objective of this experiment is to investigate whether standard manipulations to increase/decrease empathy can succeed in generating/suppressing empathic reaction to a video. The video is one that might be used in a campaign to raise funds for children who are confronting serious illnesses.
Intervention Start Date
2019-09-20
Intervention End Date
2019-10-20
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Empathic State
After watching the video, all participants will fill out the Emotional Response Scale (e.g., Batson, et al., 1988, 1989, 1991, 1997, 2007). This scale includes a six-item measure of Empathic State.

Empathic Concern
Participants also fill out the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1994). This index includes a seven-item measure of Empathic Concern.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The Emotional Response Scale has been used in numerous experiments by Batson and colleagues to measure Empathic State after “Empathy/Objective” conditions to increase/decrease empathy. The scale is made up of 18 emotions (examples: sympathetic, compassionate, alarmed, sad). A participant self-rates (on a scale from 1 to 7) how much they experienced each emotion while watching the video.

The Interpersonal Reactivity Index has been extensively used to have participants self-rate their dispositional tendencies to react to situations (example: “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me”) on a scale from 1 (does not describe me very well) to 5 (describes me very well). Even though the IRI is a dispositional measure, some experiments have found that self-ratings on dispositional measures can measure changes induced by manipulations. Accordingly we will use the Empathic Concern seven-item sub-scale from the IRI as a back-up measure of empathic reaction to the video, in case the Empathic State sub-scale from the Emotional Response Scale does not measure empathy change as planned. If Empathic State measures changes as planned, it is the preferred outcome measure.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Distress State and Negative State
These are eight- and four-item sub-scales from the Emotional Response Scale.

Personal Distress and Perspective Taking
These are seven-item (each) sub-scales from the Interpersonal Reactivity Index.

Principle of Care
This is an eight-item scale that measures a participant’s endorsement of a moral principle that one should help people in need (Bekkers and Ottoni-Wilhelm, 2016).

Attention-Check and Manipulation-Check Questions
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Although the conditions are intended to increase/decrease empathic response to the video, the conditions may unintentionally increase/decrease other emotions, in particular the distress one might feel, and/or sadness one might feel, at seeing a video about children who are ill (i.e., Distress State and Negative State).

The conditions may also increase Perspective Taking, to the extent that they increase a cognitive (rather than emotional) empathic reaction.

Because Empathic Concern and the Principle of Care are correlated (Ottoni-Wilhelm and Bekkers, 2010; Bekkers and Ottoni-Wilhelm, 2016), we intend to check whether the conditions designed to increase/decrease empathy unintentionally increase/decrease endorsements of that moral principle.

An Attention-Check will be used to detect participants who are not reading the questions, but simply clicking through the questions to quickly get to the end of the session.

Manipulation-Check questions: All participants (even those randomized into the Control group) are asked (1) how much they concentrated on counting people and scene changes while watching the video, and (2) how much they concentrated on the feelings of the children. Participants who were randomized into one of the four conditions that received instructions prior to watching the video (see conditions 1a, 1b, 2a, or 2b below) will also be asked (a) how much they tried to follow those instructions and (b) how difficult it was to follow those instructions. These are self-report measures of how much a participant complied with the assignment to treatment.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experimental design is between-subjects, 5 x 1.

The participants will be Amazon Mechanical Turk workers invited to complete a “Human Intelligence Task” (HIT) called “Follow Instructions and Evaluate a Video”. The inclusion criteria are: (1) U.S. citizen, (2) 18 years or older, (3) done at least one previous HIT, and (4) have completed 95% or more of their previous HITs.

Prior to watching the video, approximately one-fifth of the participants will be randomly assigned to one of four conditions. The remaining one-fifth will be randomized into the Control group. The four conditions:

1a. Empathy condition.

2a. Objective/Technical condition.

1b. Empathy condition with additional task (boost).

2b. Objective/Technical condition with additional task (boost).

And a Control group.

After watching the video, all participants fill out the Emotional Response Scale.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
The randomization is by computer.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
n.a.
Sample size: planned number of observations
N = 450 mTurk workers. Because the objective is to test how much empathy can be increased/decreased by standard manipulations, we have a plan to increase the sample size should N = 450 yield insufficient precision to meet our objective. See “Power calculation” below.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
N = 90 in each of the five conditions.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Based on our projections about the standard deviation of our primary outcome Empathic State (sES = 1.25), we are powered at 80% to detect a difference between conditions of .42sES. We are also 80% powered to detect a .42s difference in our back-up primary outcome–Empathic Concern (the fact that under our projections about standard deviations we are powered to detect exactly .42s in both outcomes is a coincidence). If the standard deviation of Empathic State in the experiment turns out to be much larger than we have projected, so that with N = 90 in each of the conditions we are unable to say that we have significantly increased the difference between Empathic State between conditions 1a and 2a (or between 1b and 2b) with an F-stat >= 10, we will increase the number of observations in each condition. Again, the objective of this experiment is to investigate whether the manipulations to increase/decrease empathy can succeed, so if the manipulations appear to succeed based on the magnitude of the point estimates, but are imprecisely estimated, the objective will be to find the necessary N to achieve precision. We are monetarily budgeted to increase the number of observations to a total N = 900. In addition, Objective 6 is to investigate whether the manipulations to increase/decrease empathy can succeed among women, and also separately among men. If the mTurk workers responding to our HIT are (say) disproportionally men, we will increase the sample size of women to achieve Objective 6. See attachment “fs-Pre-reg-003-v01a-PowerAnalysis-MTurk.docx” for further details.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Indiana University Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2019-09-13
IRB Approval Number
1902727933A002
Analysis Plan

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