The Effect of Guilt on Ethical Consumption and Donation Behavior

Last registered on December 18, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

The Effect of Guilt on Ethical Consumption and Donation Behavior
Initial registration date
December 18, 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
December 18, 2020, 12:14 PM EST

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



Primary Investigator

Skidmore College

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The objective of our research is to examine the effect of induced guilt on prosocial behavior. We focus on two behaviors – consumption of products with ethical attributes and donation to charitable organizations. Through the ordering of tasks, we also examine whether ethical consumerism can license participants to forego donating. Motivated by findings from previous research, we also seek to examine the role that religious identity plays in the propensity to engage in moral cleansing and moral licensing behaviors.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Goff, Sandra. 2020. "The Effect of Guilt on Ethical Consumption and Donation Behavior." AEA RCT Registry. December 18.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcome variables are the number of x-z pairs our participants type in the 5 minute real effort task and the amount of their compensation they decide to donate to charity.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We do not wish to have our experimental design known to the public prior to implementing this study.
Experimental Design Details
In the study, participants are randomized into either a guilt or a control writing exercise in which they write about a recent experience for approximately 5 minutes. Following this exercise, participants are given the opportunity to perform a simple, repetitive task to earn chances to win a basket of goods. This optional task involves typing 'xz' as many times as possible in a 5-minute period. Participants are either working toward a basket of organic goods or a basket of similar monetary value that contains conventionally produced goods. Next, participants are provided the opportunity to donate a portion of their compensation to charity.
Randomization Method
Our randomization is done by the Qualtrics, Inc. software
Randomization Unit
Randomization occurs at the level of the individual.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
We expect to obtain 310 observations.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We expect to recruit 310 participants, randomized equally into the 4 experimental conditions produced by our 2 x 2 factorial design
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Depending on the expected analysis, we have a minimum detectable effect size of between approximately 0.2 and 0.4.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Skidmore College
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials