Prejudice and attitudes against immigrants: a perspective-taking intervention in high schools in italy

Last registered on April 19, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Prejudice and attitudes against immigrants: a perspective-taking intervention in high schools in italy
Initial registration date
January 24, 2023

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
January 30, 2023, 1:53 AM EST

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

Last updated
April 19, 2023, 2:52 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Milan-Bicocca

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Milan-Bicocca
PI Affiliation
University of Milan-Bicocca
PI Affiliation
University of Milan-Bicocca

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Major demographic shifts and global changes have contributed to the increasing diversity in the composition of the population in Italy. The country has been relentlessly involved in population aging and demographic decline, while at the same time turning from a historical emigration country to a major destination for (young) migrants and asylum seekers from neighbouring regions. This change in the demographic composition has significant implications for social integration at the local level, with major challenges posed by hostile attitudes towards immigrants and minority groups, including prejudices, discrimination, and xenophobia. This project investigates the potential role of educational programs in shaping attitudes toward immigrants and cultural diversity among youth, with the final goal of designing effective integration policies for inter-group relations and an inclusive society.

We will conduct a randomized evaluation of a program designed to foster intercultural dialogue and social inclusion through perspective-taking activities that can encourage students to break down stereotypes and consider cultural diversity and integration as a value. The program is implemented by the Italian-based NGO Helpcode and has been created by a multidisciplinary team of social scientists, pedagogical consultants, and multimedia developers within a framework of ‘active learning’.

The study will involve 240 high-school classes, across 40 schools located in the provinces of the two Italian cities of Milano and Genova. Due to resource constraints, the program can only be delivered to 120 classes during the school year 2022-2023. Other classes will be covered in the future, depending on the success of this initial phase and on future funding availability. The classes that will receive the program in this initial phase will be randomly selected among available classes within each target school. We will then conduct two rounds of data collection (baseline and endline), surveying a sample of about 17 students per class, for a total of about 4,080 students. Our primary outcome of interest will be attitudes towards migrants, as captured through a combination of measures, that include the Implicit Association Test (IAT), behavioural games, and self-reported measures. Our surveys will also allow us to capture a wider range of outcomes and discuss the mechanisms behind the observed impact.

We expect this study to provide new insights that can directly inform practitioners and policymakers to design programs and policies aimed at handling the complexity of population changes and creating an open and inclusive society.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Giunti, Sara et al. 2023. "Prejudice and attitudes against immigrants: a perspective-taking intervention in high schools in italy." AEA RCT Registry. April 19.
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Experimental Details


The intervention is inspired by the “Migration au délà des prejudges – MADP “ (Migration, beyond prejudice) program, which was first launched in 2015 in Belgium, in a context described as a “migration crisis.” The MADP program aimed to foster intercultural dialogue and social inclusion among youths through activities that encourage participants to break down stereotypes and consider cultural diversity and integration as a value. The original tools and activities were developed around the principle of ‘active learning’ by a multi-disciplinary group of social scientists, pedagogical consultants, and multimedia developers and were implemented by volunteers trained and supported by two Belgian non-profit organizations (ULB Engagée and Jagora). Although anecdotally very successful, the original program was never rigorously studied.

The intervention studied in this project is the Italian adaptation of the MADP program. The implementation is managed by the Italian-based NGO Helpcode, whose members have closely interacted with the Belgian team. The program maintains its original focus on active learning and is structured into four main activities that are expected to lead students to reflect on topics such as hacking stereotypes, prejudices, and xenophobia.

The program will be delivered in two sessions of 3 hours each (6 hours in total), delivered during regular school hours, by teams of two people: a Helpcode staff member and a university student recruited from the universities of Milan and Genova. University students will undergo a 2-day training and are expected to support implementation by introducing a component of peer-to-peer dialogue and education with the target students. Each session will involve two activities. Students will be encouraged to share their reflections and experiences in the process as a source of learning within the group and to allow for the co-construction of knowledge and collective learning. As part of the activities, objective data about migration patterns and refugees will also be shared and discussed with the students.

The program is expected to improve attitudes towards migration and diversity and influence a wide range of behaviors related to out-group perception and integration. The main steps underlying the theory of change that we will assess through the study, are:
1. the program delivered in the classes is expected to induce students to think about and discuss among peers issues related to cultural diversity and integration;
2. These meetings and discussions are expected to increase students’ knowledge of the facts related to immigration in Italy and to improve their understanding of immigrants’ perspectives, cultures, and associated challenges;
3. Such improved knowledge and understanding is expected to influence the attitude towards immigrants, reducing prejudices and discrimination sentiments;
4. Finally, this change in attitude is expected to translate into more open and positive behavior toward immigrants.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Attitudes towards migrants as measured through:
- Implicit Association Test;
- self-reported attitudes;
- willingness to donate to a humanitarian NGO that works with migrants;
- willingness to participate in voluntary activities with migrants;
- behavioral game (ultimatum) where participants are paired with players of different origins.
We also anticipate testing for heterogeneity of the impact based on:
- class composition
- baseline exposure to migrants
- gender
- italian/foreign origin
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Knowledge of migration facts and data; Empathy towards migrants (PCA index); Discrimination episodes
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The project will be evaluated using the RCT methodology. The evaluation will take advantage of the fact that the limited resources available to the organization do not allow the program to be implemented in more than 120 classes during this initial phase. The study will therefore randomize which classes are to host the program first (treatment group) and which classes are instead not going to host the program at this stage (control group), but might receive it at a later stage (after the end of the research study), depending on the success of the program and on funding availability.

The study sample is represented by the 40 schools in the provinces of Milan and Genova that have flagged their interest in hosting the program. On average, each school identified 6 classes, for a total of 240 classes. Within each school, we will randomly allocate half of the classes to the treatment group and half to the control group.

As the program will take place during regular school hours, every student in the treatment classes will be expected to attend the program activities. The activities will be implemented in the school building. Classes in the control group will continue their activities as usual and will not host any diversity training during the study period.

The analysis will then be based on two main rounds of data collection. Baseline data will be collected at the onset of the study (before any activity is implemented). The baseline data will be important and interesting per-se to get an up-to-date picture of prevailing views and attitudes towards migrants among students in Italian high schools. The program will then be implemented in the treatment group after baseline data collection is completed. Endline data collection will take place roughly 6 months after baseline. Endline data collection will involve the same children, surveyed at baseline and will mirror the baseline data collection in its structures. The data will allow us to measure the causal effect of the program by comparing outcomes in the treatment and control groups. The data collection will be primarily based on a survey administered to every student through digital tablets, under the supervision of trained enumerators, after obtaining informed consent from participants.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The randomizations will be implemented using a random number generator on a computer.
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization will be the class. Each class in the sample hosts between 15 and 25 students.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
240 classes, across 40 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
With an expected average of 17 students per class, we plan to survey at baseline a total of 4,080 students.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
120 classes, across 40 schools
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Based on our power calculations, the proposed sample of 120 classes per study arm (i.e. 240 in total) and 17 students per class at baseline (i.e. 4,080 in total), will enable us to detect at the 5% significance level with 80% power an effect of the intervention on our primary outcome of interest equal to 0.2 standard deviations or larger, under the assumption of intra-cluster-correlation equal to 0.18 and attrition equal to 10%.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Milan-Bicocca Ethics committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

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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