Discrimination and the role of moral wiggle room.

Last registered on November 16, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Discrimination and the role of moral wiggle room.
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005764
Initial registration date
November 15, 2020
Last updated
November 16, 2020, 1:13 PM EST

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Goettingen

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Goettingen

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2020-11-17
End date
2021-01-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Conflicts tend to polarize societies generating divisions among citizens along with identity feelings as "enemy vs. friend" or "offender vs. victim." These out-group/in-group stereotypes tend to persist when the civil conflict ends, threatening sustainable peacebuilding possibilities. We investigate whether individuals avoid information and use "moral wiggle room" to excuse selfish behavior.

The context of the study is Colombia. After the 2016 peace agreement between the Colombian government and Farc combatants, reconstruction efforts have focused on combatants' economic reintegration. Unless the population is willing to support the productive projects initiated by ex-combatants, there is a risk of recidivism.

We employ an online field experiment to investigate two main questions. First, we study discriminatory preferences eliciting the WTP for a product produced by either ex-FARC combatants or other farmers. Second, we allow individuals to decide whether or not to receive information, at zero cost, on the identity of the producer of the good, before revealing their WTP. We test if participants strategically decide to remain ignorant of the identity of the producer to act selfishly.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Ibanez, Marcela and Tatiana Orozco Garcia. 2020. "Discrimination and the role of moral wiggle room.." AEA RCT Registry. November 16. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5764-1.0
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
We recruit participants using Netquest database that includes a population of 120 thousand subscribers in Colombia. We select a sample of 2000 individuals to participate in a two-stage online experiment and a post-experiment survey.

First state - No feedback:
In the first stage, participants reveal their willingness to pay (WTP) for a product (coffee) produced either by Ex-FARC combatants' cooperative or a farmers' cooperative. Participants reveal their WTP in 6 different scenarios that involve various probabilities of receiving the good produced by Ex-FARC combatants. Under these scenarios, participants do not receive feedback on which product was selected before revealing the WTP, which allows us to investigate if participants hold discriminatory preferences related to the producer's identity. To incentivize true revelation on preferences, we use the Becker–DeGroot–Marschak (BDM) mechanism.

Second stage - Feedback:
In the second stage, we implement a variation of the experiment of Dana et al., 2007 and investigate if participants avoid information about the producer's identity and use moral wiggle room to engage in selfish behavior. Before revealing the WTP, participants can solve the uncertainty about who produced the product and decide whether to receive or not information on the producer's identity at a zero cost. Participants have the possibility to remain ignorant about the origin of the product they are purchasing and use the moral wiggle room to act selfishly disregarding their discriminatory preferences.

All decisions are incentive-compatible as one is selected for payment. Participants receive the product a few days after the experiment.

In the post-experiment survey, we measure attitudes towards ex-combatants, exposure to conflict, risk, and ambiguity aversion and collect data on socioeconomic characteristics.

Intervention Start Date
2020-11-17
Intervention End Date
2021-01-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We have three main sets of outcomes of interest:

1. Discriminatory preferences against products of ex-FARC members

2. Information acquisition

3. Consistent preferences
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Discriminatory preferences

We use two different measures. The first measure compares WTP for coffee of ex-combatants with WTP for coffee of farmers cooperatives. The second measure considers the correlation between WTP and the probability that the coffee is produced by the Ex-FARC cooperative. If the slope is negative (positive) we consider that there is evidence of discriminatory preferences against (in-favor) ex-FARC products.

2. Information Acquisition: Dummy equals 1 if a subject decides to receive information on the identity of the producer.

3. Consistent preferences: Consistency on the preferences are measured as the difference between the WTP in stage two after information treatment and the WTP for the product in the comparable scenario in stage 1. If the value is significantly different from zero it indicates low willingness to implement discriminatory preferences.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Attitudes towards ex-combatants

Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Attitudes towards ex-combatants: Coefficient of the factor analysis of the Attitudes towards ex-combatants index. Factor runs from -1 to 1. Higher values indicate more positive attitudes towards ex-combatants.

The Attitudes towards ex-combatants index is a scale compounded by 4 factors (moral/social differences, the capacity of change, severity, contact), constructed with 20 Likert scale items.

Each item has 4 response alternatives: Strongly disagree, disagree, agree, and strongly agree. 9 items are negative, and the remaining 11 items are positive. Scores of the negative items are reversed. The scores of all items are summed and a constant of 20 (total number of items) is subtracted from the total scores. Potential scores range from 0 to 60. Higher values of the score reflect more positive attitudes towards ex-combatants.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
First, participants are randomized into two groups that vary the identity of the producers (ex-Farc vs farmer) or (Farmer vs. Farmer). All participants need to answer the first six scenarios in which the probabilities of receiving coffee from one of the cooperatives vary. The Farmer-Farmer group compares valuations of the product produced by two different farmers cooperatives.

For stage two, we randomly assigned participants to treatments that vary on two factors:
1. Type of feedback: Exogenous(Exo) vs Endogenous(Endo) Feedback.
2. The probability to confront a product produced by Ex-FARC members: Low or High

Experimental Design Details
We use a within-between subject experiment study design. Each individual takes 7 decisions in total.

The condition with No feedback is implemented in decisions 1 to 6 (first stage). In these decisions, the WTP is elicited while there is the uncertainty of the producer's identity. individuals are randomly assigned to one of two groups: ex-Farc vs farmer or Farmer vs. Farmer. The probability of receiving the coffee from one of the cooperatives can be p={0,0.01, 0.3,0.7,0.99,1}.

Decision 7 (second stage) has feedback according to 4 treatment arms that vary:

1. Type of feedback in decision 7: Exogenous (Exo) vs Endogenous (Endo) Feedback.
2. Probability to confront a product produced by Ex-FARC members: Low (L) or High (H).

For the last decision, participants are informed that one lottery has been implemented so either farmers' or Ex-FARC' product was selected (One of the Farmers in the pure control group). All participants receive information on the lottery used and therefore know the value of p. Half of the participants are informed that a lottery with p=0.3 (Low) was selected, while the other half is informed that a lottery with p=0.7 (High) was selected.

Under the exogenous feedback condition, participants are informed of the selected producer's identity and are asked to report their WTP. The endogenous feedback condition, allow participants to decide if they want to know the producer's identity or not before reporting the WTP.

Randomization Method
Stratified randomization by main cities followed by simple randomization into treatment.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
2000 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
2000 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Number of observation by treatment arm in parenthesis

Treatment Group: vary in the likelihood to obtain product from ex-FARC vs. Farmers
Exo-L (208)
Exo-H (208)
End-L (417)
End-H (417)

Pure Control Group: varies the likelihood to obtain a product from two different farmers cooperatives

C-Exo-L (125)
C-Exo-H (125)
C-End-L (250)
C-End-H (250)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Göttingen
IRB Approval Date
2020-07-01
IRB Approval Number
N/A

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
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