x

Please fill out this short user survey of only 3 questions in order to help us improve the site. We appreciate your feedback!
Content Matters: The Effects of Commitment Requests on Truth-Telling
Last registered on November 25, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Content Matters: The Effects of Commitment Requests on Truth-Telling
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006700
Initial registration date
November 24, 2020
Last updated
November 25, 2020 10:32 AM EST
Location(s)

This section is unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Bundesbank
PI Affiliation
University of Linz
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2020-11-20
End date
2021-03-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This RCT is a replication excercise regarding the cheating game considered in the working paper version of Cagala, Tobias; Glogowsky, Ulrich; Rincke, Johannes (2019, "Content Matters: The Effects of Commitment Requests on Truth-Telling" (for a pdf of the working paper, see Docs and Materials). The original study uses a laboratory experiment to test how the request to sign a nocheating declaration affects truth-telling. Its main finding is that the effects strongly depend on the declaration’s content. Signing a no-cheating declaration increases truth-telling if it is morally charged, does not affect behavior if it is morally neutral, and reduces truth-telling if it is morally neutral and threatens to punish. The latter effect is driven by subjects with particularly high values on Hong’s Psychological Reactance Scale. These are subjects with a tendency to push back if their freedom of choice is restricted. We aim to replicate the original design with three main changes: First, we would like to increase the statistical power of the analysis. Specifically, we aim at collecting 600 individual observations. Second, we plan to embed survey questions aiming at the measurement of subjects' reactance score in a larger survey including the Big 5 personality traits. Third, we plan to collect the experimental data online. This change relative to the original design is due to the fact that laboratories in Germany are currently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Cagala, Tobias, Ulrich Glogowsky and Johannes Rincke. 2020. "Content Matters: The Effects of Commitment Requests on Truth-Telling." AEA RCT Registry. November 25. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6700-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Subjects play a standard cheating game. A random draw determines a number between 1 and 6. Subjects receive an additional payoff of 5 Euro if they report a 5, and no additional payoff if they report any other number. At the beginning of the experimental sessions, subjects in the treatment groups sign a no-cheating declaration (control group: no declaration, so signature). The content of the declaration varies between a version referring to the standards of ethical sound behavior (ETHICAL STANDARD), a morally neutral version that does not refer to any ethically loaded norm (NEUTRAL), and a version combining the neutral no-cheating declaration with a threat that non-compliance will be sanctioned (SANCTION). Note that in the replication, we plan to collect the data online.
Intervention Start Date
2020-11-20
Intervention End Date
2021-03-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
- Indicator for subjects who cheat by reporting a 5, conditional on having drawn a 1, 2, 3, 4, or a 6.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
- See the working paper under Docs 6 Materials for details.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
- Subjects' values on Hong's Psychologocal Reactance Scale. We will study the treatment effect heterogeneity with respect to this measure.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We focus on an index measuring reactant behavior. To calculate the score, we follow the factor analysis of De Las Cuevas (2014) and average over the subjects' answers to eight of the fourteen statements that are part of the survey. See the working paper under Docs & Materials for details. Specifically, the Appendix of the working paper includes a list of all fourteen statements and indicates which statements we used to calculate the reactance score.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Subjects play a standard cheating game. A random draw determines a number between 1 and 6. Subjects receive an additional payoff of 5 Euro if they report a 5, and no additional payoff if they report any other number. At the beginning of the experimental sessions, subjects in the treatment groups sign a no-cheating declaration (control group: no declaration, so signature). The content of the declaration varies between a version referring to the standards of ethical sound behavior (ETHICAL STANDARD), a morally neutral version that does not refer to any ethically loaded norm (NEUTRAL), and a version combining the neutral no-cheating declaration with a threat that non-compliance will be sanctioned (SANCTION). We study the heterogeneity of cheating with respect to the subjects' psychologocal reactance score. The reactance score is constrcuted using survey data collected before the experiment. Note that in the replication, we plan to collect all data online.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer. The randomization will be stratified by the subject's reactance score. Specifically, after collecting the survey data on psychological reactance, we will determine the terciles of the reactance scores, and use these terciles as strata. This is meant to make sure that the distribution of reactance is balanced across treatment conditions.
Randomization Unit
Individual/subject
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
We aim to collect observations on 600 individuals/subjects.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We aim to collect observations on 600 individuals/subjects.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
150 individuals in control and 150 individuals per treatment arm (three treatments)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
In the working paper, we find the following proportions of cheaters by treatment condition: Control 0.277 Ethical Standard 0.116 Neutral: 0.365 Sanction: 0.465 As stated before, we plan to collect 150 observations by treatment condition. The minimum detectable effect sizes for a negative effect (relative to Control) of Ethical Standard at a power of 80 percent is -0.132. Put differently, the power to detect an effect that is equally-sized to the one we have identified in the working paper is 94.3%. The minimum detectable effect sizes for a positive effect (relative to Control) of Neutral at a power of 80 percent is 0.154. In our working paper, we did not identify any significant effect of the neutral condition. The minimum detectable effect sizes for a positive effect (relative to Control) of sanction at a power of 80 percent is 0.154. Put differently, the power to detect an effect that is equally-sized to the one we have identified in the working paper is 92.5%. In the heterogeneity analysis, we will study the treatment effect by tercile of the reactance score. When comparing two treatment groups, those comparisons will be based on 100 observations. In the working paper, we find the following proportions of cheaters by tercile: Tercile 1: Control 0.278; Sanction: 0.263 Tercile 2: Control 0.154; Sanction: 0.417 Tercile 3: Control 0.222; Sanction: 0.778 In the first tercile, the minimum detectable effect size for a positive effect (relative to Control) of Sanction at a power of 80 percent is 0.273. In the data from the original experiment, this difference in means is small and not significantly different from zero. In the second tercile, the minimum detectable effect size for a positive effect (relative to Control) of Sanction at a power of 80 percent is 0.248. Put differently, the power to detect an effect that is equally-sized to the one we have identified in the working paper is 84%. In the third tercile, the minimum detectable effect size for a positive effect (relative to Control) of Sanction at a power of 80 percent is 0.265. Put differently, the power to detect an effect that is equally-sized to the one we have identified in the working paper is larger than 99%. We plan to also run difference-in-difference (DiD) estimations between treatment condition and reactance tercile (i.e., we will test if the difference between, say, the second and the third reactance score tercile differs between, say, Sanction and Control). In each of these DiD estimations, we will be able to use 200 observations.
Supporting Documents and Materials

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number