Psychological and Social Determinants of Cooperation and Punishment in Social Dilemmas

Last registered on June 07, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Psychological and Social Determinants of Cooperation and Punishment in Social Dilemmas
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007110
Initial registration date
June 04, 2021

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
June 07, 2021, 10:46 AM EDT

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

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2021-06-06
End date
2021-10-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
It is a puzzle why people punish in social dilemmas. This study theoretically and experimentally explores the psychological and social determinants of cooperation and punishments in the voluntary contribution mechanism with punishment (VCMP). We propose that the determinants of punishment may be psychological and may lie in the belief-based emotions and preference; the determinants of contributions may lie in the anticipation of future punishment and the emotion of shame.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Dhami, Sanjit and Mengxing Wei. 2021. "Psychological and Social Determinants of Cooperation and Punishment in Social Dilemmas." AEA RCT Registry. June 07. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7110
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2021-06-06
Intervention End Date
2021-10-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
contribution, punishment, beliefs, emotions
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
There are three main treatments – T1, T2, and T3. This is a one-shot game, and we use a between-subjects design. The subjects are randomly divided into two-person groups. Before the experiments start, subjects need to answer some practice questions to make sure they understand the instruction. After completing all the decisions in the experiment, subjects need to fill in a post-experimental survey.

Stage 0
T1: Subjects do not receive information
T2: Subjects do receive information
T3: Subjects do receive information but no punishment

Stage 1 (Public goods contribution stage)
1. Guess.
2. Public good game contribution.
3. Stage 1 results.
4. Emotions.

Stage 2 (Punishment Stage)
1. Guess.
2. Costly punishment.
3. Emotions.
Experimental Design Details
There are three main treatments – T1, T2, and T3. This is a one-shot game, and we use a between-subjects design. The subjects are randomly divided into two-person groups. Before the experiments start, subjects need to answer some practice questions to make sure they understand the instruction. After completing all the decisions in the experiment, subjects need to fill in a post-experimental survey.
The normative expectations (what subjects think others "ought to" or "should" contribute) are denoted as NE, and the empirical expectations (what subjects think others "will actually" contribute) are denoted as EE. Information is given on these two expectations, based on (at least) two previous sessions (with similar design but elicited the information of EE and NE; see the information below for an example), in a way such that EE and NE are not in conflict. For instance: "Subjects in a previous experiment (i) thought that most others "ought to" or "should" contribute 10 out of 20 units of their Stage 1 income towards the public good, and (ii) most subjects "actually contributed" more than 6 out of 20 units."

Stage 0
T1: Subjects do not receive information on NE or EE.
T2: Subjects do receive information on NE and EE right at the beginning.
T3: Subjects do receive information on NE and EE right at the beginning, but no punishment stage.
We will have 2 sub-treatments (h and l) in both T2 and T3 – T2h, T2l, T3h, and T3l. The difference between the sub-treatments (T2h vs T2l, T3h vs T3l) is that the subjects in the h sub-treatment (T2h and T3h) will be revealed of higher-level information of NE while the l sub-treatment (T2l and T3l) will be revealed of lower-level information of NE. Note that the higher-level and lower-level information of NE are elicited from T1.

Stage 1 (Public goods contribution stage)
Within each treatment, and after the information explained above is (or is not) revealed to the players, play proceeds as follows.
1. Before deciding on their contributions, players guess the contributions of their partners in an incentive-compatible manner (rewarded if the expected contribution is the closest to the actual contribution of the partner).
2. Players receive identical Stage 1 endowment and play a 2-person public good game and make contributions.
3. At the end of Stage 1, the contribution and income of each player are publicly revealed within their own group.
4. Players are asked to reveal the emotions that they are facing. We adapt Molnar et al. (2020) to ask from among a list of the following emotions: Frustration, Anger, Indignation, Shame, Elation, Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction. Subjects can tick as many emotions as they feel. For each chosen emotion they then indicate the strength of the emotional feeling from 1 (a little) to 7 (extremely).

Stage 2 (Punishment Stage)
1. Players receive identical Stage 2 endowment, and they only use the Stage 2 endowment to simultaneously choose the level of costly punishment to inflict on their partner (the player costs one unit to inflict three units of punishment on the partner). Before punishing, they need to guess the possible punishment level their partner may choose.
2. Players are asked to reveal the emotions that they are facing (same as the end of Stage 1).
3. The punishment and income of each player are publicly revealed within their own group.

Subjects know that only one stage from Stage 1 and Stage 2 will be randomly chosen to pay them after the experiment.
Randomization Method
randomization done by computer
Randomization Unit
experimental session level randomization (first treatment must be done earlier than the other treatments in order to collect necessary data to reveal in the other treatments, and the other treatments randomize at the session level)
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
5 treatments
Sample size: planned number of observations
500 subjects
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 subjects each treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Nottingham School of Economics Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
2021-04-26
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