Moral Preferences and Financial Decision Making

Last registered on August 03, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Moral Preferences and Financial Decision Making
Initial registration date
July 29, 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
August 03, 2022, 2:51 PM EDT

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


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Primary Investigator

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This project's goal is to understand people’s moral attitudes towards different aspects of debt contracts. In particular, we aim to elicit how people’s moral values tradeoff with economic considerations. Participants are shown three scenarios covering both ex-ante and ex-post decisions relating to debt contracts. The first scenario asks participants to choose an interest rate spread between risky and safe borrowers based on randomized information about the demographics of risky borrowers. The second scenario asks participants to tradeoff unusual collateral with lower interest rates on a loan given randomized likelihood of default. The third scenario asks participants to make a decision about leniency in bankruptcy when shown randomized information about the cause of bankruptcy.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Paine, Fiona, Antoinette Schoar and David Thesmar. 2022. "Moral Preferences and Financial Decision Making." AEA RCT Registry. August 03.
Experimental Details


We use an online survey platform to recruit participants in the US to take our survey. We require that participants must have English as their first language and the survey may be taken using a phone or computer.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Agreement/Disagreement with moral statements, hypothetical borrowing interest rates, hypothetical decision to borrow or save, hypothetical leniency in bankruptcy
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We randomize specific details in hypothetical scenarios provided to respondents. The randomization is done by the survey software (Qualtrics).
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is done by survey software.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
No clustering
Sample size: planned number of observations
1800 survey respondents
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Each vignette (shown in randomized order) is considered independent and has either 2 or 3 main treatments arms (900 or 600 respondents per main treatment).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number