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Information Preferences and the Short and Long Run Effects of Information
Last registered on January 14, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Information Preferences and the Short and Long Run Effects of Information
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005015
Initial registration date
November 10, 2019
Last updated
January 14, 2020 6:00 PM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Universtiy of Mannheim
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Mannheim
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-11-11
End date
2020-05-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In this project, we investigate how information on industrial livestock farming affects meat consumption in the short and long run. We estimate the demand for information and analyze how the effect of information varies with information preferences.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Epperson, Raphael and Andreas Gerster. 2020. "Information Preferences and the Short and Long Run Effects of Information ." AEA RCT Registry. January 14. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5015-1.2000000000000002.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Based on an encouragement design, individuals receive (or do not receive) information on industrial livestock farming.
Intervention Start Date
2019-11-11
Intervention End Date
2020-05-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Short run:
Binary outcome of whether an individual chooses a voucher for a non-vegetarian (instead of a vegetarian) meal.

Long run:
Binary outcome of whether an individual eats meat when purchasing a meal in one of the canteens during the observed time period after the laboratory experiment. (The number of observations per individual depends on the number of purchases made.)

Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Long run:
We code a meal as containing meat based on the weekly food plans. In cases where our data is insufficient to determine exactly whether a meal contained meat (e.g. the salad bar), we code it as containing meat if meals in that category typically do.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Our research design builds on three central elements: (i) the elicitation of the willingness-to-pay (WTP) for information on industrial livestock farming, (ii) variation in the treatment of receiving this information, and (iii) the observation of the subjects’ meal choices (in particular their meat consumption) in the short and long run.We investigate short run effects based on a laboratory experiment. In addition, we can analyze long run effects due to supplementary field data.
Experimental Design Details
In our laboratory experiment, participants have the opportunity to receive information in the form of a 360° video on living conditions of pigs in industrial livestock farming. We elicit the demand for information by asking people to decide between two options: (i) watching a 360° video about industrial livestock farming of pigs or (ii) watching a virtual reality tour through the office building of the "Deutsche Bundesbank" (German Central Bank), which they have already watched before. Subjects face eleven choice tasks which differ in the extent to which one of the two videos is incentivized (we randomize which video is denoted as option A). The implied prices of information are -8, -5, -3, -1, -0.5, 0, 0.5, 1, 3, 5, 8 EUR. One decision is randomly selected and implemented (the implied prices of -8 and 8 EUR are each selected with a probability of 27.5 percent, while all other decision are selected with a probability of 5 percent). With the wide range of prices we try to achieve that subjects do not prefer one video option over the other for all relative prices. As a result, all subjects have a positive probability of (not) receiving the information (which allows to estimate e.g. the average treatment effect of information by propensity score weighting). In the last part of the laboratory experiment, subjects have the chance to win a voucher for the main canteen at the University of Mannheim (with 50 percent probability). They can choose which of two vouchers they would like to receive if they win (the order is randomized): a voucher for menu 1, which usually contains meat (or fish), or a voucher for the vegetarian menu. This decision is used to measure the short run effect of information. To give subjects a better idea of the options, we provide the exact meals that correspond to the vouchers for a sample week (21.10.19–25.10.19). Each voucher has a value of €3. Whether a subject wins or not is determined by a random draw (by the computer) and is independent from the lottery outcome of other subjects. At the end of the experiment, subjects are informed about the lottery outcome and their overall reward. The monetary reward from the experiment is not paid in cash but transferred onto the ecUM (electronic card Universität Mannheim). The ecUM serves as student card at the University of Mannheim and can be used to purchase products in the canteens or other products like the six-month student transit pass. Subjects need to activate the credit on their ecUM by visiting the information counter of the “Studierendenwerk Mannheim”, which is in the same building as the main canteen. The credit is available from Tuesday in the week after the experimental session onwards. Before leaving the laboratory, subjects receive an envelope that contains information on their credit and the corresponding voucher if they have won. The experimental data is supplemented by data on subjects’ meal purchases made in the period 01.08.2019–31.05.2020 at the canteens of the “Studierendenwerk Mannheim”. The data will be provided by the “Studierendenwerk Mannheim”. The purchases are made with the ecUM. As subjects provide their ecUM number during the experimental session, the purchases can be assigned to a particular subject. Although it is possible to pay in cash at the canteens, the student discount is conditional on paying with the ecUM and few transactions are actually made in cash. For a sample period from 01.10.2019 till 31.10.2019 less than two percent of the transactions in the main canteen were made in cash. We obtain informed consent of subjects to access their data prior to the experimental sessions. The data on meal purchases outside the laboratory is used to measure the long run effect of information. “[The following paragraph was added on 14.01.2020] Additional to the sessions at the mLab (Mannheim Laboratory for Experimental Economics), we also run experimental session at the BonnEconLab (Laboratory for Experimental Economics at the University of Bonn) to achieve our desired sample size. The experimental design is the same, except for the following differences: First, the two vouchers subjects can choose from are not for a whole menu but for a main dish. In particular, subjects can choose from (i) a voucher for a vegetarian main dish (“Vegetarische/Vegane Hauptkomponente”) and (ii) a voucher for a non-vegetarian main dish (“Fleisch/Fisch Hauptkomponente”). The voucher can be used at two different canteens. To give subjects a better idea of the options, we provide the exact meals that correspond to the vouchers for a sample week at one of the canteens. The value of a voucher depends on the particular main dish it is used for. For students, the prices of the main dishes usually vary from €1.35 to €2.05. Second, the monetary reward from the experiment is transferred onto the Mensa-Card which is used to make noncash payments at the university canteens. Only students with a Mensa-Card are able to participate in the experiment. Subjects need to activate the credit on their Mensa-Card in one of two canteens. The credit is available from Monday in the second week after the experimental session onwards. Third, the experimental data is supplemented by data on subjects’ meal purchases made in the period 01.10.2019–19.07.2020 at the canteens of the “Studierendenwerk Bonn”. The purchases are made with the Mensa-Card. As subjects provide the number of their Mensa-Card during the experimental session, the purchases can be assigned to a particular subject.”
Randomization Method
Randomization is done via oTree
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
1,000 Individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,000 Individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Due to the encouragement design, the exact numbers are unclear. In our power calculations, we use the empirical WTP distribution from our pretest. See the attached pre-analysis plan for more details.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
See the attached pre-analysis plan.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Ethics Committee at the University of Mannheim
IRB Approval Date
2019-10-15
IRB Approval Number
EK Mannheim 30/2019
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information
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Is the intervention completed?
No
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Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
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