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Motivated vs. Skeptical Beliefs
Last registered on April 15, 2021


Trial Information
General Information
Motivated vs. Skeptical Beliefs
Initial registration date
April 14, 2021
Last updated
April 15, 2021 6:20 AM EDT

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Primary Investigator
CNRS - Sciences Po
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
CNRS - Sciences Po
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
This study investigates a new, psychological, explanation for the fact that the unraveling of information fails in many markets contrary to what standard theory predicts (Milgrom, 1981). In particular, we ask whether it may be that agents are able to interpret skeptically the lack of evidence, but may not want to do so when the unraveling process leads to undesirable truth. To study whether having preferences over belief can explain failure of unraveling, we use a laboratory experiment in the context of a Sender-Receiver game. In a "neutral treatment", we will see if the Receiver is able to undo the Sender's communication strategy to discover the truth as predicted by economic theory. In a "loaded treatment", we will see if this reasoning is made harder by the fact that the information disclosed is about the Receiver's own performance in an IQ-test. We also manipulate exogenously how the lack of evidence should be theoretically interpreted by the Receiver or, said differently, whether being skeptical is psychologically detrimental or beneficial for the Receiver. The resulting dataset will allow us to investigate whether agents are be cognitively able but psychologically reluctant to interpret skeptically the lack of evidence.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Hagenbach, Jeanne and Charlotte Saucet . 2021. "Motivated vs. Skeptical Beliefs ." AEA RCT Registry. April 15. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7541-1.0.
Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The key outcome variables are the Senders' information and actions, and Receivers' decisions in each game.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
See the attached PAP document.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We consider one of the simplest incomplete information games, namely a sender-receiver disclosure game: an informed Sender transmits hard information to an uninformed Receiver, who acts upon this information. We exogenously vary wether the information that the Sender communicates about is neutral or loaded, in that it corresponds either to a number with no particular meaning or to the Receiver's performance. In the latter case, the Receiver may have intrinsic preferences for believing he performed well, which potentially affects the way he reads strategically-disclosed information. By playing on the Sender's incentives, we also vary whether vague or absent disclosure should, in theory, be interpreted by the Receiver as a high or low performance.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
We randomly assign each experimental session to one of the 4 treatments. Subjects voluntary sign up to participate in our online sessions but, at the time of registration, cannot know the treatment they will receive.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
No clustering.
Sample size: planned number of observations
320 subjects.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
80 subjects per treatment.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Research Ethics Committee of the Paris Institute of Political Studies
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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