Charity and Well-being 01

Last registered on November 07, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Charity and Well-being 01
Initial registration date
August 06, 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
August 09, 2021, 5:29 PM EDT

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

Last updated
November 07, 2022, 4:31 PM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Otago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Indiana University
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
University of Otago

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The five-decade-old economics literature investigating the private provision of charity has entirely ignored measurement of how much those voluntary contributions impact recipients’ well-being. Instead, the literature has implicitly assumed that every extra dollar contributed to a charitable organization, and spent on recipients, results in an improvement in recipient well-being (i.e., happiness and/or life satisfaction).
We will test for the effect of receiving charity on recipient well-being using a laboratory experiment. Our method for testing whether receiving charity always increases well-being will be to create an environment where people have the opportunity to ask for charity in the laboratory. If people choose not to ask for charity, then this implies asking for charity would reduce their well-being. We also plan to analyze whether “attribution” (the narrative around why people need charity) affects whether people choose to ask for charity or not. Specifically, we will analyze whether there is a difference in rates of asking for charity when the narrative attributes the results to an external cause (due to luck) or an internal cause (due to ability).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Benjamin, Lehn et al. 2022. "Charity and Well-being 01." AEA RCT Registry. November 07.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


2 x 2: {Real-effort: High-score, Low-score} x {Attribution: External, Internal)

Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Proportion of Low-scorers who ask for charity
2. (a) Proportion of High-scorers who donate to charity
(b) Amount donated
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
See attached analysis plan.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Self-threat
2. Negative emotion
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
See attached analysis plan.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Not available.
Experimental Design Details
The lab experiment will be conducted face-to-face, using pencil and paper.

Participants will take part in a real-effort tasking (adding up columns of numbers under time pressure). Those in the top half of the distribution will earn $25 and those in the bottom half of the distribution earn $5. A charitable fund will be created where those in the top half can donate some of their earnings to a charitable fund. The proceeds of the fund will be equally divided between those in the bottom half of the distribution who ask for a share of the fund. Participants will leave the lab via an adjoining room. Those wishing to ask for a share of the charitable fund need to show their participant ID number to an RA who is seated in the adjoining room.

While in the lab participants will answer some survey questions .....(Mark or Lehn to complete)
Randomization Method
Participants will randomly be randomly allocated to sessions, subject to which sessions they are available to attend. The randomisation is by an RA randomly choosing slips of paper for the sessions participants are available.
Randomization Unit
Experimental sessions. Although randomization is by session, we consider which individual participants show up at any particular session to be essentially random. We will use balance tests to confirm this. See attached analysis plan for additional detail
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
The number of sessions will be what is required to reach N = 200 participants. We anticipate between 10-20 sessions will be needed.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We will recruit as many participants as we can, up to our budgeted limit of 200 . Note half will be potential donors and half potential charity recipients.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 participants internal; 100 participants external.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
An effect size of .20 to .25 in the difference between the proportions of Low-internal vs. Low-external who ask for charity. See the attached power analysis.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Otago Human Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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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