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Cooperation and punishment in a nationwide experiment
Last registered on April 06, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Cooperation and punishment in a nationwide experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007468
Initial registration date
April 05, 2021
Last updated
April 06, 2021 5:20 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Innsbruck
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute at the University of Munich
PI Affiliation
UMIT Tirol
PI Affiliation
University of Innsbruck
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2021-04-09
End date
2022-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The human ability to establish cooperation depends upon the execution of cooperative norms, especially in large groups of unrelated strangers. High levels of cooperation among humans are often attributed to the possibility of third-party punishment (TPP). We study the effectiveness of TTP to increase cooperative behavior in a large-scale cooperation game in a representative sample of the German population. Our study aims to answer whether TTP fosters cooperation in a prisoner’s dilemma (PD) game in society at large.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Angerer, Silvia et al. 2021. "Cooperation and punishment in a nationwide experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. April 06. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7468-2.0.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We investigate whether cooperation rates increase through the implementation of a third-party punishment (TPP) mechanism. Therefore, we plan to run a large-scale artefactual field experiment with a national representative sample of the German population, where participants play an incentivized prisoners dilemma (PD) game.
To do so, we run two experimental treatments. In the first treatment, there is no TPP, while in the second treatment, TPP is possible. We randomly divide all subjects into two groups. The first group is assigned to the first treatment and plays the PD game without TPP, while the second group is assigned to the second treatment and plays the PD game with TPP.
Intervention Start Date
2021-04-09
Intervention End Date
2021-05-20
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Cooperation rate in the PD game, that is, the percentage of participants who decide to send their endowment to their partner.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We will investigate effect heterogeneities by age, gender, and socioeconomic status, as well as whether respondents answered the control questions correctly. Furthermore, we will investigate the correlation between cooperation and punishment decisions and survey-based measures of real-life cooperative and punishment decisions in the context of Covid-19 vaccination decisions.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We plan to sample a minimum of 2,000 adults aged between 18 and 69 years (up to a maximum of 3,000 — conditional on pending supplementary research funding; also see “Experiment characteristics”).
The experiment is conducted in cooperation with a survey institute. The recruitment and polling are managed by the survey institute, which collects the data via an online platform. That is, our participants participate in the experiment autonomously on their own digital devices. Randomization is carried out by the survey institute at the individual level, using a computer. Payment of incentives is carried out anonymously by the survey institute.
Our experiment is structured as follows:
Respondents will be randomly assigned (between subject) to Treatment 1 (p=0.5), or Treatment 2 (p=0.5).

Treatment 1:
Stage 1: Cooperation
Stage 2: Beliefs about the behaviour of the partner
Stage 3: Punishment Decision
Stage 4: Beliefs about the behaviour of the player

Treatment 2:
Stage 1: Cooperation
Stage 2: Beliefs about the behaviour of the partner
Stage 3: Beliefs about the behaviour of the observer
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
(e.g. public lottery, randomization done in office by a computer, coin flip): Randomization is carried out by the survey company, using a computer.
Randomization Unit
at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
2,000 individuals (adults aged between 18 and 69 years). (maximum: 3,000 – conditional on pending supplementary research funding )
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,000 individuals (1,000 per treatment). (maximum: 3,000 (1,500/1,500) – conditional on pending supplementary research funding ). According to our conservative cost calculations, we have sufficient funding for sampling 2,000 individuals. In case that we are granted supplementary research funding, we envisage to continue sampling up to a maximum number of 3,000 individuals.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1,000 per treatment. (maximum: 1,500 – conditional on pending supplementary research funding).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of Innsbruck, Board for Ethical Issues
IRB Approval Date
2021-03-15
IRB Approval Number
17/2021