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|The EA Behavioral Science Newsletter
March 2023 (#8)
The EA Behavioral Science Newsletter is joining Habit Weekly, one of the largest behavioral science newsletters, as a sister publication!🥳
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📖 20 publications
📝 9 preprints & articles
💬 7 forum posts
🎧/🎦 4 podcasts & videos
💰 0 funding opportunities
💼 2 job & volunteering opportunities
📅 5 events
👨🔬 Spencer Greenberg profiled
B Grodeck & P Schoenegger
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (2023)
What are the effects of confronting people with moral arguments and morally demanding statements to perform certain actions, such as donating to charity? To investigate this question, we conduct an online randomized experiment via Prolific (n=2500) where participants can donate to charity. Using a between-subject design, we provide some participants with a moral argument as to why they should donate. We then add a single sentence on top of the moral argument that expresses and varies moral demandingness at different levels.
To reduce experimenter demand worries, in a follow-up experiment (n=1200) we provide the same stimulus via an external party's website—the non-profit Giving What We Can. In both experiments, we find that moral arguments significantly increase both the frequency and amount of donations compared to the control. However, we fail to find evidence that increasing the level of moral demandingness affects donation behavior in either experiment. Exploratory equivalence tests provide evidence in favor of such a null effect. Our findings suggest that charities should employ moral arguments to increase giving, though our findings give no specific recommendation as to the moral demandingness employed as there is no additive effect of morally demanding arguments.
Lucius Caviola & Joshua D. Greene
Science Advances (2023)
The most effective charities are hundreds of times more impactful than typical charities. However, most donors favor charities with personal/emotional appeal over effectiveness. We gave donors the option to split their donations between their personal favorite charity and an expert-recommended highly effective charity. This bundling technique increased donors’ impact without undermining their altruistic motivation, boosting effective donations by 76%. An additional boost of 55% was achieved by offering matching donations with increasing rates for allocating more to the highly effective charity.
We show further that matching funds can be provided by donors focused on effectiveness through a self-sustaining process of micromatching. We applied these techniques in a new online donation platform (GivingMultiplier.org), which fundraised more than $1.5 million in its first 14 months. While prior applied research on altruism has focused on the quantity of giving, the present results demonstrate the value of focusing on the effectiveness of altruistic behavior.
Yueyi Jiang, Przemysław Marcowski, Arseny Ryazanov & Piotr Winkielman
Scientific Reports (2023)
Many consider moral decisions to follow an internal “moral compass”, resistant to social pressures. Here we examine how social influence shapes moral decisions under risk, and how it operates in different decision contexts. We employed an adapted Asian Disease Paradigm where participants chose between certain losses/gains and probabilistic losses/gains in a series of moral (lives) or financial (money) decisions. We assessed participants’ own risk preferences before and after exposing them to social norms that are generally risk-averse or risk-seeking. Our results showed that participants robustly shifted their own choices towards the observed risk preferences.
|📝 Preprints & articles
|💬 Forum posts
Announcing Insights for Impact, a YouTube channel aiming to communicate key insights of EA-aligned research papers, Christian Pearson
Spreading messages to help with the most important century, Holden Karnofsky
Immigration reform: a shallow cause exploration, Joel McGuire, Samuel Dupret, Michael Plant & Ryan Dwyer
The Capability Approach to Human Welfare, Ryan Briggs
|🎧/🎦 Podcasts & videos
How Science Misunderstands Power, Insights for Impact
|💼 Jobs & volunteering
|👨🔬 Researcher profile
What is your background?
I'm a mathematician by background (with a speciality in machine learning), but now I focus full-time on psychology and behavioral science!
What is your research area?
How do we make psychology and behavioral science more robust, more accurate, and more useful? We build technology to improve social science (GuidedTrack.com is a more powerful alternative to Qualtrics we created. Positly.com is an alternative to Mechanical Turk that works in 100 countries and has better quality control. And we're working on a new tool for statistics called Hypothesize).
Right now, we're seeing if we can replicate >40 claims in the intelligence/IQ literature, as well as building a new machine learning-based system for studying personality and testing our decision-making intervention (https://programs.clearerthinki...) in a randomized controlled trial. We're also attempting to develop new interventions for anxiety.
Do you want help or collaborators, if so who?
It's usually not worth it for us to write up our studies for academic journals, so we love collaborating with academics who want to write publications and share co-authorship based on studies we conduct (there is often also an opportunity for them to inject novel hypotheses into the studies we're already running). Feel free to reach out if you're interested!
Do you want to share some of your work?
Our new Transparent Replications project where we replicate papers in top journals right after they are released: https://replications.clearerth...
You can contact Spencer here.
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