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Exploiting Moral Wiggle Room in Sustainable Investing
Last registered on April 28, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Exploiting Moral Wiggle Room in Sustainable Investing
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007611
Initial registration date
April 27, 2021
Last updated
April 28, 2021 10:30 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
SFI - University of Zurich
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Maastricht University
PI Affiliation
Maastricht University
PI Affiliation
Maastricht University
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2020-10-20
End date
2021-07-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
People often behave prosocially with significant costs to themselves. Yet, people behave more self-interestedly when presented with an opportunity to sneak out of prosocial behavior that prevents them from appearing selfish (Dana, Weber, and Kuang 2007). This tendency to “exploit moral wiggle room” is consistent with the idea that individuals desire to pursue self-interest while maintaining the illusion of behaving prosocially. The primary goal of this project is to study investors’ tendency to exploit moral wiggle room in actual high-stake investment choices. Our hypothesis is that investors use moral wiggle room to avoid sustainable investments. We design and conduct an online experiment among members of a UK pension fund to test this hypothesis.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Bauer, Rob et al. 2021. "Exploiting Moral Wiggle Room in Sustainable Investing ." AEA RCT Registry. April 28. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7611-1.0.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-10-20
Intervention End Date
2020-12-04
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The probability of investing in a sustainable fund (Invest Sust Fund)
The probability of choosing the default option (Used Default)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
The amount invested in the sustainable fund (Assets Sust Fund)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Subjects are endowed with an initial sum of money, £1,000 (approx. $1,350), which they are asked to invest. Their task is to allocate the money between two funds. Both funds have a similar profile, being diversified UK investment funds. However, one fund is a conventional investment fund and the other one is a sustainable investment fund. The sustainable option integrates environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in its asset allocation. Importantly, the costs of the two funds are different. The conventional fund costs 0.5% of the invested sum. The sustainable fund is more expensive, costing 1.5% of the invested sum.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization was done by Jigsaw, a survey provider
Randomization Unit
Clustered randomization: Participants are randomly assigned to one of three conditions: Wiggle Room Condition, Sustainable Default Condition, and control (No Default Condition)
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
3 Conditions
Sample size: planned number of observations
3,800 participants evenly split between the 3 clusters
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1,266 participants per cluster
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Ethical Review Committee Inner City Faculties (ERCIC) of Maastricht University
IRB Approval Date
2020-09-30
IRB Approval Number
ERCIC_217_30_09_2020
Analysis Plan

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