Pay It Forward: Theory and Experiment

Last registered on May 11, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Pay It Forward: Theory and Experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009407
Initial registration date
May 10, 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
May 11, 2022, 12:39 PM EDT

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

Locations

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Michigan State University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Michigan State University

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2021-02-23
End date
2021-04-01
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
People who have received help may be more likely to pay it forward by helping a third party. We use a lab experiment to investigate psychological motivations behind this behavior. We extend the psychological game-theoretic model of Dufwenberg & Kirchsteiger (2004) to guide our experimental investigation. Our experiment suggests that altruism and indirect reciprocity are the main reasons that people pay kindness forward. Equity can also play a role, but credit -- the degree that beneficiaries appreciate kindness -- does not. Our experiment and theory improve our understanding of how kind behavior gets passed on among parties that never directly interact, which has implications for the formation of social norms and atmosphere in workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Chuan, Amanda and Hanzhe Zhang. 2022. "Pay It Forward: Theory and Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. May 11. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9407
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Sequential giving games in which P2 can give to P1, who can give to P0. In some game's, P1's decision to give to P0 is contingent on whether P2 gave to P1 first.
Intervention Start Date
2021-02-23
Intervention End Date
2021-04-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Whether subjects give at a given node of the game
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Subjects' first and second-order beliefs about giving
Subjects' stated credit received by each player for each other player's payoff
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Within-subject
Each subject will play sequential giving games. They will first see a dictator game with a bystander. Next, they will see two games in random order. One of the games will allow P1 to give even if P2 did not. One of the games will only allow P1 to give if P2 already gave.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Qualtrics will randomize the order of the games for subjects
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
400 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
400 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
400 individuals per treatment arm (within-individual design)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
300 individuals needed for 11 percentage point detectable effect size
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Michigan State University
IRB Approval Date
2020-03-23
IRB Approval Number
STUDY00004248

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
April 01, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
April 01, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
403
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
403
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
403 per treatment arm (within-subject)
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials