When do we listen and whom do we listen to? Stubbornness in social learning.

Last registered on March 30, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

When do we listen and whom do we listen to? Stubbornness in social learning.
Initial registration date
March 14, 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
March 30, 2023, 12:00 PM EDT

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

Last updated
March 30, 2023, 2:00 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Norwegian School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This paper studies the role of preferences in determining how people react to information in social settings. Economists usually approach the decision to learn from others as one that is driven mainly by beliefs -- we want to learn from those who may know more than we do, and may choose not to do so if we think we are better at the task than others. While the role of preferences has been studied in the context of motivated reasoning or cognitive biases (BĂ©nabou and Tirole, 2016; Benjamin, 2019), their general role in information demand is largely unexplored. The main idea of this paper is that people may have preferences for whether to listen to others, and to whom they to listen to. I posit that individuals want to learn from those who can help them get to a better outcome (as in standard models), but the \emph{act} of learning from others may be psychologically costly and causes people to not learn when they want to/should. To test this, I run online experiments on Prolific and a panel survey sample.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Moorthy, Akshay. 2023. "When do we listen and whom do we listen to? Stubbornness in social learning.." AEA RCT Registry. March 30. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.11066-1.1
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Decisions (beliefs) - a value between 0 and 100. In some treatments, binary choices of whether an individual sticks to their initial decision or switches to either the source's decision, or picks the lottery.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Belief movement (in continuous treatments)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Individuals make two decisions in a balls-and-urns paradigm. Individuals first form an independent posterior belief. They are then given an opportunity to learn from another person who made a decision in the same problem. Individuals then make a second decision, which is either a binary choice, or a continuous belief. The experiment varies a. the accuracy of the decision made by the information source, b. the identity (group membership or religious) of the information source.

Added detail for the benefit of the AEA RCT registry review team on 20 Mar 2023: Individuals are assigned to a treatment upon entry. The treatments are listed in the sample size section. The baseline treatment serves as the control, but some of the registered hypotheses have other control groups.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Pseudo-randomly assigned to treatment upon entering the online experiment using a random number generator method in Python.

Added details as requested by the reviewer on 20th March 2023: Participants are assigned to one of the treatments upon entering the experiment application (programmed in oTree/python) using a random number generator.
Randomization Unit
Individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
~ 1550. On Prolific - 750 responses. On a panel survey in India - 800 responses
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Baseline: 150
Continuous outcome: 150
Lottery outcome: 150
Minimal group: 200
Religion: 500
Baseline (panel survey): 300
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
NHH-IRB 39/22
Analysis Plan

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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