Status and Hierarchy: Field Evidence from Kindergarten Children

Last registered on May 13, 2024

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Status and Hierarchy: Field Evidence from Kindergarten Children
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0013595
Initial registration date
May 12, 2024

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
May 13, 2024, 12:43 PM EDT

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

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Fudan University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Shenzhen University
PI Affiliation
University of Toulouse
PI Affiliation
Yunnan University of Finance and Economics
PI Affiliation
Monash University
PI Affiliation
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2024-04-01
End date
2024-07-20
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
We plan to conduct a field experiment in three kindergartens in Dali, Yunnan province, China. We plan to use randomized control method to study the evolution of social status and the impact of social status on social interactions. To be specific, we plan to investigate whether children should be viewed as having a preference for associating with high-ranking individuals, or whether their behavior can simply and more parsimoniously be viewed as responding to the expected costs and benefits of different associations. We will refer to the first possibility as the “preference hypothesis”, which would suggest potential evolutionary roots for a hardwired preference among humans. The second possibility will be referred to as the “signaling hypothesis”, whereby behavior responds to status because of what status signals about individual characteristics, and hence about the payoff consequences of different strategies.

One kindergarten will be chosen as the pilot study group and the other two will be randomly assigned into the control group and treatment group in the formal study, separately. Each study group consists of about 20 children. Before we begin, we will rely on the school security camera system (CCTV) to study children’s original social organization. Importantly, we will rely on the footage to identity those children who originally have higher social status than others.

Our experiment includes a pre-experiment observation, two stages of experimental interventions and a post-experiment observation. During the pre-experiment observation, for both the control and the treatment group, we will monitor children’s daily activities unobtrusively for two weeks and assign status scores to each child to determine their social ranks based on the recorded behaviors. Then, two children of each study group will be selected as the “advantaged” children privately by the experimenter, one with a fairly high (but not the highest) rank and one with relatively low rank.

In the first stage, we will prepare two containers of different colors. One of the containers can only be accessed by the “advantaged” children while the other one can be accessed by other children. Every child can obtain treats from the containers as long as he/she accesses the correct container. This stage is the same for the control and treatment.

The second stage will be exactly same as the first one for the control group. For the treatment group in the second stage, the treats can be obtained only if at least one of the “advantaged” children and at least one of the other children access their corresponding containers at the same time.

For the two stages of experimental intervention, the containers will be accessible for one hour every school day. Children are expected to learn gradually about assignment (“advantaged” or others), the operation of the containers and the change in the rules from the first to the second stage. Their daily activities will be recorded throughout the process. Each stage is planned to last for 2 weeks or longer if children are found to need more learning time during the pilot study. But the first and the second stage together take no more than 6 weeks.

We will continue to record children’s daily activities during the post-experiment observation period.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Chen, Xiu et al. 2024. "Status and Hierarchy: Field Evidence from Kindergarten Children." AEA RCT Registry. May 13. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.13595-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Our experiment includes a pre-experiment observation, two stages of experimental interventions and a post-experiment observation. During the pre-experiment observation, for both the control and the treatment group, we will monitor children’s daily activities unobtrusively for two weeks and assign status scores to each child to determine their social ranks based on the recorded behaviors. Then, two children of each study group will be selected as the “advantaged” children privately by the experimenter, one with a fairly high (but not the highest) rank and one with relatively low rank.
Intervention Start Date
2024-05-20
Intervention End Date
2024-06-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We will rely on the CCTV and research assitants' records to code the outcome variables. Our outcome variables include all possible behaviors in kids.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
One kindergarten will be chosen as the pilot study group and the other two will be randomly assigned into the control group and treatment group in the formal study, separately. Each study group consists of about 20 children. Before we begin, we will rely on the school security camera system (CCTV) to study children’s original social organization. Importantly, we will rely on the footage to identity those children who originally have higher social status than others.

Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
No
Sample size: planned number of observations
100-200 kids
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We use a two-stage experiment design. The first stage will be the control stage and the second stage will be the treatment stage. Thus, all kids in the second stage will be in the treatment arms
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Survey and Behavioural Research Ethics Committee, The Chinese University of HongKong
IRB Approval Date
2024-04-15
IRB Approval Number
SBRE‐23‐0642