Self-Esteem and Demand for Social Image

Last registered on September 22, 2017


Trial Information

General Information

Self-Esteem and Demand for Social Image
Initial registration date
June 20, 2016

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
June 20, 2016, 10:34 PM EDT

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

Last updated
September 22, 2017, 10:05 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Bocconi University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Consumers might choose to purchase certain products to show to others their own economic achievements and thus gain social status. We investigate how self-esteem influences the demand for social status: are self-esteem and social image complements or substitute? We consider premium credit cards, which can be demanded not only for the services and benefits that they provide, but also for social image motives. Since qualification requirements for these cards are usually high, this is a financial product generally available only to wealthy individuals. This exclusivity makes it a well-know symbol of success, which might enhance the owner's social image. We design a phone marketing experiment which has two purposes: first, to temporarily give a boost to the self-esteem of some customers; and second, to disentangle the role of social image considerations and instrumental benefits in explaining the demand for a platinum card.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Fiorin, Stefano. 2017. "Self-Esteem and Demand for Social Image." AEA RCT Registry. September 22.
Former Citation
Fiorin, Stefano. 2017. "Self-Esteem and Demand for Social Image." AEA RCT Registry. September 22.
Experimental Details


We design a phone marketing experiment in which we randomize the characteristics of the product being offered and the scripts used for the call.
First, some clients are offered to replace their non-premium card by a premium card, while others are offered all of the extra services of a premium card on their existing non-premium card. Customers will thus be offered the same instrumental services: the only thing differing is whether the services are included in their present relatively nondescript card, or on the premium card which might have an additional "social status" component. If the share accepting the premium card is higher than the share accepting the added benefits to the non-premium card, we will have established that customers value the status associated with the exclusive premium card.
To understand what drives the demand for social status, we interact this treatment with a second one. Before being made the offer, customers in a control group are asked to name their favorite TV channel, while customers in a treatment group are asked to describe an event in their life that made them feel successful. According to the literature in psychology, this treatment can (at least temporarily) increase the self-esteem of the customers. We will thus be able to analyze whether the demand for social status is higher (lower) among customers with higher self-esteem, and thus understand whether self-image and social-image are complements or substitutes.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary Outcome: offer take-up decision
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We ask about the customer willingness to take up the offer at the end of the call, and code this as a "yes" or "no".
If a customer decides to interrupt the call before the caller asked about her willingness to take up the offer, but after the caller asked the first question, then the take-up decision will be coded as "no" as well. Other cases (that is, if the caller refuse to listen to the calls, or is not available) will be excluded from the analysis.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Customers will be randomly assigned into one of the following groups: (1) premium card and self-esteem question, (2) premium card and TV question, (3) non-premium card and self-esteem question, and (4) non-premium card and TV question.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The randomization was conducted using a computer random number generator.
Randomization Unit
We randomized at the level of the individual customer.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
No clustering.
Sample size: planned number of observations
581 customers owning a "gold card" 865 customers owning a "platinum card"
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Gold card sample: (1) premium card and self-esteem question N=145, (2) premium card and TV question N=146, (3) non-premium card and self-esteem question N=146, and (4) non-premium card and TV question N=144.
Platinum card sample: (1) premium card and self-esteem question N=433, (2) premium card and TV question N=432.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
UCLA Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
July 25, 2016, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
July 25, 2016, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
The partner bank called the 581 customers owning a "gold card" to offer them the "platinum card" as a higher-end card. However, the partner bank decided to cancel the marketing phone calls to the 865 customers owning a "platinum card."

The partner bank was able to reach 203 out of the 581 customers. However, based on the records of the calls, we found out later that the callers failed to follow our protocol for the experiment in 36 out of these 203 calls, yielding a final sample size of 167 customers.
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
167 customers
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
(1) premium card and self-esteem question N=34, (2) premium card and TV question N=43, (3) non-premium card and self-esteem question N=46, and (4) non-premium card and TV question N=44.
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials