Social Dilemma Aversion and Information Avoidance

Last registered on July 08, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Social Dilemma Aversion and Information Avoidance
Initial registration date
July 02, 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
July 08, 2022, 9:18 AM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Paderborn University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
Many studies document that some people ignore information, even though this information would be instrumental for their decision-making. This behavior was often attributed to self-image concerns (Grossmann and VanderWeele 2017). A recent study by Exley and Kessler (2021) however finds that indeed self-image concerns play their role, but a large share of the ignorance behavior is still unexplained. In this study, we will explore whether people instrumentally ignore information to avoid a social dilemma situation. Our design is based on the hidden information game by Dana et al. (2007). To answer our question we reduce the size of the dilemma situation in the experiment.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Bopp, Fabian. 2022. "Social Dilemma Aversion and Information Avoidance." AEA RCT Registry. July 08.
Experimental Details


To show that social dilemma aversion can explain ignorance, we aim to reduce the tradeoff situation in the dilemma without changing other elements of the game. To reduce the possible tradeoff, we using two different approaches implement an additional mediocre option to the hidden information game by Dana et al. (2007) and thereby eliminate the worst possible dilemma situation.
T0 describes the baseline hidden information game as described
T1 consists of adding an additional third option, which domiates the worst option in the dilemma situation.
T2 of replacing the worst option in the dilemma situaton.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Revealing of information vs. remaining uninformed
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We are interested in the decision to inform oneself about being either in the aligned or conflicting state of the world. We are interested in the share of agents who do not inform themselves and whether the share is affected by the intervention of adding a mediocre option.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
pro-social action
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We are interested in, whether due to the additional option the pro-social option will be more often selected and thus whether positive welfare is created. Also we are interested in whether the expected observed effect is differently strong for female and male subjects as we believe that different mechanisms might be more or less relevant depending on the gender.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The design is based on the hidden information treatment in the moral wiggle room game by Dana et al. (2007). In the game a decision maker has to choose between option. Depending on the unkown state of the world of the interests either being alignd or conflicting one option is selfish and the other prosocial. The player can reveal the state of the world for free. In the treatment a mediocre option is added to the game. After informing the potential size of the tradeoff situation is reduced as the in the initial game worst option is dominated and becomes irrelevant (T2) or not even existing anymore (T1). If the aversion of being in such an unpleasant situation drives information avoidance, we should see less ignorance behavior in the game with the mediocre option.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization of subjects to the treatments is done by the computer.
Randomization Unit
individual randomization: The agents will be assigned to treatments within one session based on the ID.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
The agents will be randomly assigned to treatments within one session.
Sample size: planned number of observations
The overall number of the study will depend on the share of information avoidance obseravle in the baseline and thus can only be an estimate. In total 600 observations are planned.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
200 per treatment.

Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
This depends hardly on the baseline share of ignorant behavior. i.e. asuming an ignorance share of .50 in T0, we expect with decent power to observe an posibble difference of .10 reduction in T1/T2 .

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethik-Kommission der Universit├Ąt Paderborn
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

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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