Losses make you think
Last registered on June 18, 2021


Trial Information
General Information
Losses make you think
Initial registration date
June 18, 2021
Last updated
June 18, 2021 12:53 PM EDT

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Primary Investigator
Middlebury College
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Middlebury College
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
A foundational result in behavioral economics is that decision-makers treat losses differently than gains. Until now, this difference has largely been hypothesized to be driven by an underlying “loss aversion” value function (Kahneman and Tversky, 1979). We hypothesize that losses may also focus decision-makers more effectively than gains, causing them to expend more cognitive effort.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Carpenter, Jeffrey and David Munro. 2021. "Losses make you think." AEA RCT Registry. June 18. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7839-1.0.
Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary Outcomes:
• Time spent deliberating:
o Qualtrics quietly keeps track of how long participants spend on each of the seven CRT questions and the total amount of time spent on the entire survey. Our first primary outcome is the total time spent on the seven questions.
o We may also control for the total time spent on the entire survey.
o We will winsorize the time spent data if it is sufficiently noisy (e.g., some people may just click through, and others might get distracted or walk away from their computer briefly).

• Number of correct versus intuitive choices:
o We will count the number of correct responses.
o We will also count the number of intuitively wrong CRT answers a participant submits as a measure of system I versus system II usage.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes:
• NASA responses:
o Responses to the five NASA cognitive load/effort questions are recorded on a scale between 0 and 10, which we will treat cardinally.
o We will focus on responses to the prompts, “How mentally demanding were these questions?”
o “How hard did you have to work to accomplish your level of performance?”
o “How much attention were you paying to the questions as you answered them?”
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We examine how financial incentives affect cognitive effort and outcomes.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
By Qualtrics
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
600 Individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
600 Individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
200 per arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Middlebury College IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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