Elemental Financial Decisions

Last registered on January 28, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Elemental Financial Decisions
Initial registration date
January 28, 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 28, 2022, 10:29 AM EST

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


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Primary Investigator

Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Justus-Liebig-Universtität Giessen

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We investigate elemental financial decisions such as "You can invest some money. Do you prefer to invest in a (safe) asset with 5% returns or in a (safe) asset with 10% returns, all else equal and no additional strings attached?" Such decisions are fundamental for all financial decisions, yet to the best of our knowledge they have not been investigated experimentally. We expect that people misallocate money, and that this misallocation increases with cognitive uncertainty. We try to manipulate misallocation by using framing, negative interest rates, the valence of the decision (investing vs. borrowing) and divisible vs. indivisible money - the three former UVs in a within design, the latter UV in a between design.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Gärtner, Florian and Darwin Semmler. 2022. "Elemental Financial Decisions." AEA RCT Registry. January 28. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8913
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Misallocation, i.e. money not transfered to the optimal solution as deduced by rational choice.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Two experiments with 3 identical independent variables:
- Investment vs. borrowing
- Positive vs. negative interest rates
- Two different frames

The experiments themselves differ in an additional independent variable, the divisibility of money.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization Unit
Individual participants; 16 randomized decisions per participant
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
480 participants
Sample size: planned number of observations
7680 decisions
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
240 participants per experiment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB of the German Association for Experimental Economic Research e.V.
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number