The timing and content of moral reminders – An online study of the dynamics of dishonesty

Last registered on April 13, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The timing and content of moral reminders – An online study of the dynamics of dishonesty
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006416
Initial registration date
September 09, 2020

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
September 09, 2020, 11:21 AM EDT

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

Last updated
April 13, 2021, 5:11 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2020-09-09
End date
2020-10-09
Secondary IDs
Abstract
An increasing body of studies investigates if moral reminders can prevent dishonesty. It has been shown that their effectiveness varies with their content and that they are sent before rather than after actions are taken. However, most studies focus on one-shot decision making. Little is known about the effectiveness of moral reminders across time. Reminding individuals about being honest early on, e.g., when a contract is started, may be ineffective if individuals forget about the reminder. If individuals make multiple decisions, it may be more effective to remind them after they have gathered experience with the task and possibly even gave in to the temptation to cheat. The effectiveness of moral reminders might also increase if it is signaled that observing behavior across multiple instances allows assessing if someone was dishonest. The goal of our study is to investigate how moral reminders send at different times and with different content affect dishonesty. The study will be implemented as an online experiment, participants will be recruited using Amazon Mturk.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Le Maux, Benoit and Sarah Necker. 2021. "The timing and content of moral reminders – An online study of the dynamics of dishonesty." AEA RCT Registry. April 13. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6416
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-09-09
Intervention End Date
2020-10-09

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Whether a subject reported to have guessed correctly in the cheating game in one round; how many times a subject reported having guessed correctly in the first and last five rounds of the cheating game; how many times a subject reported having guessed correctly in all ten rounds.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The five and ten period counts of correct guesses will be constructed by summing the number of times that a subject reported to having guessed correctly in the respective period.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In our study, individuals participate in ten rounds of a wheel of fortune game. The wheel of fortune shows the first 6 letters of the alphabet, from A to F. The task is to guess which letter the wheel of fortune will show and report if the guess was correct. In each round, individuals that report “Yes” receive 20ct while those that report “No” receive 0ct. Thus, individuals have a financial incentive to always report that they guessed correctly. As is common in the literature, dishonesty is not observable but can be inferred from deviations from chance. We vary the timing and content of a moral reminder in six treatments (between-subjects design). The study will be implemented online using Amazon Mturk.
Experimental Design Details
The procedure of the experiment is as follows. Before the experiment starts, subjects will have to pass a bot control (captcha) and sign an informed consent form. They will then participate in two games. The first game is a memory game which has the purpose to focus people’s attention on memorizing letters. The second game is the cheating game as described above. Subjects have to answer control questions to assure that they understood the instructions. After the two games, they are asked to fill in a follow-up survey, inquiring their risk aversion, shame and guilt proneness, perception of the game, and socio-demographic information (e.g., age, gender, education, country of origin). After completing all steps of the experiment, they receive a completion code which allows them to collect their payment from Amazon Mturk.
Randomization Method
Randomization done by Qualtrics (survey software)
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Design is not clustered
Sample size: planned number of observations
1500 (including 300 from pilot)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
300 (including 50 from pilot)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
German Association for Experimental Economic Research e.V.
IRB Approval Date
2020-08-31
IRB Approval Number
NrNTBByN

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
September 30, 2020, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
September 30, 2020, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials