Rule Following and Cooperation

Last registered on July 26, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Rule Following and Cooperation
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0009755
Initial registration date
July 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
July 26, 2022, 1:13 PM EDT

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

Locations

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Nottingham

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Nottingham
PI Affiliation
University of Nottingham

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2022-07-26
End date
2022-08-09
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Rule following is fundamental to social order and often a practical form of human cooperation. Both rule following and cooperation have in common that they are individually costly but collectively beneficial in many interesting situations. Here we investigate how cooperation in a social dilemma situation is linked to people’s propensity to follow costly rules. This study comprises of five treatments which examine how rule following behaviour and cooperation in a public good setting are related. We will conduct an online experiment with 520 participants on the platform Prolific, using the software LIONESS Lab.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Cubitt, Robin, Simon Gaechter and Pierce Gately. 2022. "Rule Following and Cooperation." AEA RCT Registry. July 26. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9755
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2022-07-26
Intervention End Date
2022-08-09

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The number of tokens placed in the blue bucket are the primary outcome variable. They indicate the extent of rule following and cooperation, respectively.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Empirical expectations, that is, participants guesses of (1) the number of tokens other participants placed in the blue bucket and (2) the number of other participants who placed all of their tokens into the blue bucket
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We expect empirical expectations to be correlated with actual own decisions

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This experiment focuses on the relationship between rule-following and cooperative behaviour in social dilemmas, by adapting the “bucket task” by Kimbrough and Vostroknutov (2018). Across five experimental treatments participants are asked to allocate five tokens between a blue and a yellow bucket. In all experimental treatments the primary outcome of interest is the number of tokens placed in the blue bucket, which represents the rate of rule-following and cooperation, respectively. We will also elicit empirical expectations measured as the expected allocation of tokens to the blue bucket by other participants.

The five experimental treatments are:

1. Baseline Public Goods Game (PGG) – No Rule;
2. Baseline Rule Following Task (RFT) – No Public Good;
3. PGG with a Rule;
4. PGG with a Social Rule (“helps other group members”);
5. RFT and PGG No Rule (order of tasks randomised).

T1 to T4 are between-subjects, and T5 is within-subjects. All treatments are followed by a questionnaire asking about gender, age, and political ideology and the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT; Frederick, 2005).

We will collect 104 participants in each of the 5 treatments, that is, a total of 520 participants. The experiment will be run on the platform Prolific using the software LIONESS Lab (Giamattei et al. 2020). It has received ethical approval from the Nottingham School of Economics Research Ethics committee.

Both the PGG and the RFT are one-shot games.

Experimental Design Details
Both the PGG and the RFT are based on the “bucket task” by Kimbrough, E. O., & Vostroknutov, A. (2018). A portable method of eliciting respect for social norms. Economics Letters, 168, 147-150. In our version of this task, people have five tokens and are asked to allocate the five tokens to either a “blue bucket” or a “yellow bucket”. In the RFT tokens placed in the blue bucket are worth 0.5 points and tokens placed in the yellow bucket are worth 1 point. Participants are paid according to their decisions, where 1 point = £0.20. Economic self-interest therefore suggests that people place all tokens in the yellow bucket. The RFT simply stipulates our rule: “The rule is to place the tokens in the blue bucket”. Following this rule is therefore a costly act and violating it in people’s self-interest.

The number of tokens placed in the blue bucket is a measure of the extent of rule following: 5 tokens in the blue bucket implies complete rule following; 0 tokens in the blue bucket signifies complete rule violation.

The PGG is the same as the RFT except that the PGG is played in groups of four participants and the RFT is an individual task. In the PGG group members will receive a payoff from tokens contributed by all group members. The sum of tokens allocated by all group members to the blue bucket are doubled and each group member receives 1 quarter of the value of the tokens, regardless of their own contributions. Participants completing the PGG task only see a rule if they are in either the PGG with a Rule or PGG with a Social Rule treatments. In PGG with a Rule the rule is the same as in the RFT above ("The rule is to place the tokens in the blue bucket"), and in PGG with a Social Rule the rule stipulates: "The rule is to place the tokens in the blue bucket because it helps the other group members".

After completing their task participants provide their empirical expectations of others behaviour, by providing their guesses of (i) the number of tokens placed in the blue bucket by other participants; and (ii) the number of other participants who placed all of their 5 tokens in the blue bucket. In RFT and PGG participants complete both tasks, with the order randomised, and provide their empirical expectations after each task. Participants empirical expectations are then compared to their actual behaviour during the task(s).
Randomization Method
People will be randomly allocated into one of the five treatments by the LIONESS Lab software (https://lioness-lab.org/).
Randomization Unit
Individuals are randomly allocated to one of the 5 treatments. In treatment 5 the order of tasks is randomized, and the task that is paid will be randomized as well.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
In treatments 1 - 4 participants will take only one decision. In treatment 5 participants take two decisions and we will therefore cluster at the individual level.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We will recruit 104 participants for each of the 5 treatments, that is, a total of 520 people.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
104 people per treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
The Nottingham School of Economics Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
2022-06-23
IRB Approval Number
ERCP-2022-011-rulefollow-coop
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials