Small wins: How framing institutional victories affects political action

Last registered on August 18, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Small wins: How framing institutional victories affects political action
Initial registration date
August 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
August 18, 2022, 2:35 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Department of Economics, MIT
PI Affiliation
Department of Economics, MIT

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 study examines the impact of learning about the climate legislation expected to be introduced in August 2022. It compares two frames. The first frame -- the victory frame -- presents the climate legislation as a historic accomplishment that is a game changer. The second frame -- the incrementalist frame -- presents the legislation as an important step in an unfinished journey. We have two primary outcomes. The first is the decision to engage in voter mobilization efforts to support climate-friendly candidates in the mid-term elections. The second is willingness to donate a share of potential lottery winnings to climate friendly groups. We also measure a number of secondary outcomes, including efficacy beliefs and attitudes toward climate action.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Page, Lucy, Hannah Ruebeck and James Walsh. 2022. "Small wins: How framing institutional victories affects political action." AEA RCT Registry. August 18.
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Experimental Details


The intervention will be information about the Inflation Reduction Act, currently going through Congress, that varies in whether it frames the bill just as a monumental victory or as a step towards a larger goal, requiring more action.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We have two primary outcomes:

(1) Citizen action: Whether participants volunteer with the Environmental Voter Project, an organization that works to increase turn-out among pro-environmental voters by organizing phone-banking events. We will observe whether participants say they are interested in volunteering with EVP and then whether they click on links to EVP's sign-up pages.

(2) Willingness to pay: The amount participants offer to donate from their potential lottery winnings (total $40) to an environmental non-profit. We provide opportunities to donate to either the Natural Resource Defense Council, the Sunrise Movement, or the Citizens' Climate Lobby.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Participants' beliefs with respect to the responsiveness to government policy to citizens' preferences on climate action.
Participants' degree of concern with respect to climate change.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Government responsiveness:

We will first measure participants' beliefs about government responsiveness via degree of agreement with three statements:
-In the US, the people have the final say about climate policy, no matter who is in office.
-Federal officials are not interested in hearing what people think about climate change, and there is no way to make them listen.
-People like me don’t have any say about what the federal government does about climate change.
We will combine Likert-scale answers into an index of general political efficacy on climate change, following e.g. Anderson (2008).

Next, we will ask participants the probability that Congress would pass a climate bill in January 2023, assuming Democrats maintained control of the House and Senate. We will ask participants for the probability the bill would pass if 5% of Americans called supporting it or if 20% of Americans called supporting it. For each participant, we will then define the gap in these probabilities as a measure of responsiveness to citizens, as well as using the level of the probability of passing with 5% calls as a measure of overall optimism about climate policy.


Degree of concern about climate change:

Likert-scale answers to the following questions:
-How worried are you about climate change?
-To what extent do you agree or disagree that humans are going to successfully stop climate change?
We will combine these answers into a scale via e.g. Anderson (2008).

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Participants will be randomly allocated to get information about the Inflation Reduction Bill or not. Within those who are informed about the bill, one third will learn about the bill in a framing that just emphasizes how monumental it is (victory frame), one third will learn about the bill in a framing that emphasizes that it's a step towards a larger goal (incrementalist framing), and one third will see a framing that combines the text of the incrementalist framing and the numbers/graphics of the victory frame.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization will be implemented within Qualtrics.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
4,000 survey participants
Sample size: planned number of observations
4,000 survey participants
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 1,000 survey participants
Victory frame: 1,000 survey participants
Incrementalist: 1,000 survey participants
Incrementalist with victory numbers: 1,000 survey participants
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
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