Preferential voting prevails as most legitimate in polarized decision-making contexts

Last registered on June 25, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

The Impact of Consensus-Orientation on Legitimacy Ratings
Initial registration date
June 24, 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 25, 2021, 1:41 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

ETH Zurich

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Leeds
PI Affiliation
ETH Zurich
PI Affiliation
ETZ Zurich

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
EK 2021-N-28
Rendering decision-making procedures more legitimate in the eyes of citizens is crucial: High ratings of legitimacy build the basis for a functioning democracy and citizens' wilful compliance with regulations.
Experimental studies have shown—amongst others—deliberation, participation, and consensus-orientation to increase legitimacy ratings.
In this study, we chose to experimentally manipulate consensus orientation by introducing several voting mechanisms (IV) to quantify the impact on legitimacy (DV).
Legitimacy is measured via self-report: Participants provide legitimacy ratings after voting upon choice options within two different contexts, as well as after observing the poll's outcome (within-subjects design).
The experiment will be conducted online, deploying an Android-based app that was specifically designed for this purpose.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Hausladen, Carina Ines et al. 2021. "The Impact of Consensus-Orientation on Legitimacy Ratings." AEA RCT Registry. June 25.
Sponsors & Partners


Experimental Details


The intervention follows a between-subjects design: Participants provide legitimacy ratings at three different stages of the experiment. The ratings vary w.r.t. context and whether they were provided after voting or examining outcomes of the vote.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The main dependent variable is a participant's (self-reported) legitimacy rating.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Legitimacy is proxied by the concepts of fairness, trust, influence and acceptance. More precisely, participants are asked: "I would comply with the result and accept it as fair reflecting my and others' opinions."

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The experiment has three main stages. At each stage, participants provide legitimacy ratings, varying the context and action preceding the rating.
In stage I, participants vote upon a trivial, non-critical context (their favourite colour). Subsequently, they provide legitimacy ratings.
In stage II, participants vote upon a complex, critical context (COVID-19). Subsequently, they provide legitimacy ratings.
Finally, in stage III, participants observe the outcome of the vote and subsequently provide legitimacy ratings.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is done by a python-based algorithm.
Randomization Unit
As there is no treatment involved, no randomization of allocating participants to treatments is necessary. What is randomized is the order of the different questions and within questions their respective options, that participants vote upon.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
200–300 participants
Sample size: planned number of observations
Each participant provides 16 votes (4 questions* 4 voting methods) and 24 legitimacy ratings (4 + 4 + 16).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
200–300 participants
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Two-sample t-test power calculation n = 30.4263 d = 0.8449776 sig.level = 0.05 power = 0.9 alternative = two.sided NOTE: n is number in *each* group
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
ETH Ethics Commission
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials