How do People Learn from Not Being Caught? An Experiment

Last registered on February 24, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

How do People Learn from Not Being Caught? An Experiment
Initial registration date
February 18, 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
February 24, 2022, 12:58 PM EST

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


Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

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 law and economics literature has long posited that apprehending and imposing sanctions on individuals who commit offenses generates both general deterrence, aimed at the general population, and individual deterrence, aimed at the specific offender. While these general effects have been observed in various contexts, the empirical legal literature has failed to identify the mechanisms through which this learning process occurs. This paper will attempt to start filling this gap by examining, experimentally, whether potential repeat offenders (e.g., speeding, tax evasion, DUI) learn about the probability of detection from being caught at a different level of accuracy compared to learning from not being caught.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Zur, Tom. 2022. "How do People Learn from Not Being Caught? An Experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. February 24.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The change in the estimation of the probability of being audited between those previously audited and those not previously audited.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
The decision whether or not to report truthfully a guess of a dice roll's outcome
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In each of the two stages of the experiment, the participants will be asked to perform a simple task of rolling a virtual six-sided fair dice after reporting their guess of its outcome. Participants' payment will be comprised of a flat participation fee, and bonus payment, based on their report on whether they guessed correctly, except for when they will be randomly audited, in which case falsely reporting a successful guess will lead to a lower payoff, compared to their payoff if truthfully reporting an unsuccessful guess.
Experimental Design Details
The participants will be informed that the decision of whether to inspect their task in each stage will be made by the computer randomly drawing a ball from a gumball machine loaded with 10 balls labeled either “audit” or “no audit”; and that the computer has randomly assigned them, by a flip of a coin, either to a gumball machine with 7 red balls labeled “Audit” and 3 green balls labeled “No Audit”; or to a gumball machine with 3 red balls labeled “Audit” and 7 green balls labeled “No Audit”. In each round, before being notified whether they were chosen to be audited or not, participants' beliefs regarding the likelihood of being audited will be elicited and recorded.
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done by the computer.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
400~ Mturk workers.
Sample size: planned number of observations
400~ Mturk workers.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
~200 control (audited) and ~200 treatment (not audited)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB21-1590: How do People Learn from Not Being Caught?
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