In the first stage, subjects answered four background questions including their country of residence, gender, age bracket (18-22, 23-35, 36-45, 46-60, 60+), and education bracket (high school or lower, some college, college degree or higher). Then, subjects were randomly assigned to one of the two experimental arms, and read the text associated with their experimental condition. Subjects had to complete each task in the experiment in full before proceeding, but they could leave the experiment at any time. After reading the text, subjects were asked a question as a manipulation check.
In the second part of the experiment, subjects made choices regarding incentivized risky financial investment opportunities a la Gneezy and Potters (1997). I explicitly framed the opportunities as investments in a company's stock. I gave each subject a virtual endowment of $100 at the beginning of each of three periods. Each period, subjects faced an opportunity and decided whether to invest any of their per-period endowment, and if so, how much. The first opportunity, which I label low-risk opportunity, succeeded with probability 1/2 and paid off 3 times the invested amount in case of success. The second opportunity, which I label negative expected-value (EV) opportunity, succeeded with probability 1/3 and paid off 2.5 times the invested amount. This opportunity has a negative EV because in expectations keeping the endowment intact and not investing any money in the opportunity would leave subjects with a higher expected payoff. The third opportunity, which I label high-risk opportunity, succeeded with probability 1/6 and paid off 8 times the invested amount. I presented the three opportunities to the subjects in random order.
In the third part of the experiment, I elicited subjects' risk tolerance. Subjects faced two screens of lottery choices (Holt and Laury, 2002). Each choice included a degenerate lottery paying a positive outcome for sure (certainty equivalent), and a lottery paying a positive outcome with probability 1/2, and 0 otherwise. The lottery choices were not framed as financial or investment opportunities. I did not consider the answers of 16 subjects, because they switched more than once in the lottery-choice task. The excluded subjects represent 4% of the overall sample. The elicitation of subjects' risk aversion was also incentive compatible, because subjects knew that one line at random in each screen would be picked, and their pay would be a scaled amount of the certainty equivalent, or of the results of the lottery, based on their choice.
In the last part of the experiment, I elicited subjects' trust toward a series of institutions, which included the stock market, investment banks, commercial banks, family and friends, IT companies, and the Supreme Court. I presented the institutions to subjects in random order..
Finally, after the experiment, to test for potential demand effects I explicitly asked subjects (i) if they thought the texts they read were ideologically biased, and (ii) if they thought the texts were biased against the stock market and investment banks. This task was incentivized---subjects had to guess the degree of bias in favor, bias against, or neutrality regarding the financial sector and knew they would be paid a bonus based on how close they were to the actual degree of bias a financial-market expert had determined separately at the end of the experiment.