Moral Consistency and Social Norms

Last registered on February 02, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Moral Consistency and Social Norms
Initial registration date
January 21, 2022

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
January 24, 2022, 9:09 AM EST

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

Last updated
February 02, 2022, 9:39 AM EST

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



Primary Investigator

University of Cologne

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Cologne
PI Affiliation
University of Oxford

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We investigate the role of moral consistency for social norms in domains of prosocial behavior by means of an online lab experiment. We elicit social norms on charitable giving and on carbon offsetting in hypothetical decision scenarios. We vary the number of past choices and whether past choices had been observed by others (within-subject). To analyse the role of consistency for social norms we also vary past choices (between-subject). To learn about the determinants of individual differences in norm perceptions, we measure individual preferences for consistency and personal norms.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Grabe, Leonhard , Christoph Oslislo and Rafael Suchy. 2022. "Moral Consistency and Social Norms ." AEA RCT Registry. February 02.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Shifts in norm perceptions due to information about past behavior,
2) differences in 1) across 6 treatment conditions.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
(1) Norm Shifts (within-subject): differences in social norm ratings between round 1 (Control) and rounds 2 & 3,
(2) Differences in norm shifts (between-subject) conditional on past behavior (0-0, 2-2, 4-4) and context (Donation, CO2 Offset)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1) Correlations of "Preference for consistency" measure and social norm perceptions,
2) correlations of "Preferences for consistency" measure and personal norms,
3) differences in personal norms and social norm perceptions,
4) variances in social norm ratings,
5) correlations of demographics and ratings.
6) correlations of altruism measure and ratings
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We conduct an online lab experiment in which we elicit social norms on charitable giving and carbon offsetting using the Krupka-Weber (2013) method. In part 1 of the experiment, each participant rates the same 9 choice alternatives in 3 different scenarios resembling three hypothetical lab experiments: (I) a one-shot dictator game with private decision-making in which a person can decide to donate between £0 and £8 to a non-profit, (II) the same dictator game with three repeated rounds, and (III) the same dictator game with three repeated rounds, however now decisions in the first two rounds can be observed by another person. Participants are asked to rate the choice alternatives in (I) which serves as an individual benchmark control for social norm perceptions. In the second and third scenario, participants are asked to rate choices in the third round of the hypothetical experiment conditional on information about past choices in rounds 1 and 2. To study the role of the decision context and of past behavior, we use a 2x3 between-subject design: we vary the context (donation decision, carbon offsetting) along one factor. Along the other factor, we vary past behavior in rounds 1 and 2 in the second and third scenario (0-0, 2-2, 4-4). In part 2, participants answer a "Preference for Consistency" survey based on Cialdini et al. (1995), state their personal attitudes towards the choices of part 1, answer questions on demographics, and make a donation/ carbon offsetting decision themselves. The experiment will be conducted via Prolific and participants are randomly assigned to one of the six treatment groups.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Participants are rondomly assigned to each of the six treatment groups by Prolific.
Randomization Unit
Randomization on individual level, i.e. participants are randomly assigned to one of the six treatment variations
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
480 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
480 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
80 individuals per treatment group,
6 treatment variations: context (donation, carbon offsetting) x past behavior (0-0, 2-2, 4-4)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
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