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Self-Signaling and Prosocial Behavior: a cause marketing mobile field experiment
Last registered on August 05, 2015


Trial Information
General Information
Self-Signaling and Prosocial Behavior: a cause marketing mobile field experiment
Initial registration date
August 05, 2015
Last updated
August 05, 2015 6:22 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Sichuan University
PI Affiliation
Temple University
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We conduct two large-scale, randomized controlled field experiments for movie tickets sold on smartphones. Subjects are randomly assigned to one of several promotion campaigns with price discounts and/or charitable donations. Discount-only and charity-only campaigns increase demand. However, campaigns with both discounts and donations can decrease ticket demand. The findings are consistent with a self-signaling theory, whereby the discount crowds out the consumer’s self-inference from the charitable donation. Subjects also self-report lower ratings of “feeling good about themselves” for campaigns with both large discounts and donations. A structural model of self-signaling is fit to the data to quantify the role of self-signaling on purchases.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Dube, Jean-Pierre, Zheng Fang and Xueming Luo. 2015. "Self-Signaling and Prosocial Behavior: a cause marketing mobile field experiment." AEA RCT Registry. August 05. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.799-1.0.
Former Citation
Dube, Jean-Pierre et al. 2015. "Self-Signaling and Prosocial Behavior: a cause marketing mobile field experiment." AEA RCT Registry. August 05. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/799/history/4927.
Experimental Details
Mobile phone subscribers received promotional offers via SMS to purchase tickets to a movie. Subjects in the trial were randomly assigned to a specific promotional condition, which entailed a specific ticket price and, in some cases, a pre-determined portion of the price to be donated to a pre-determined charity. Subjects either purchase the ticket or do not purchase the ticket.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
To test whether consumer response to charitable donations reflects altruism versus self-signaling.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The goal is to see if the combination of donations and price discounts can lower demand. This would be used as evidence of self-signaling behavior.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We created 21 different promotional campaigns, each consisting of a price per ticket and a donation per ticket. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of these 21 cells.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done by computer.
Randomization Unit
individual subscriber.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
30000 subscribers.
Sample size: planned number of observations
30000 subscribers
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
cell sizes will range from 500 to 3000 subjects
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
This varies by cell. Our goal is to look at the proportion of subjects that buy (vs not buy) a ticket in a given experimental cell. We then want to test for differences in proportions between cells. So let's suppose we want to test whether two promotion cells have significantly different purchase responses. Based on a pilot test, we might expect 2% response when the price is 30% off and 5% response when the price is 50% off. To test for a significant difference, we would need 1,506 subjects in each of the two cells at 5% significance level and a power level of 0.8.
IRB Name
University of Chicago Instutitional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)