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Normatively Framed Relative Performance Feedback – Field Experiment and Replication
Last registered on September 05, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Normatively Framed Relative Performance Feedback – Field Experiment and Replication
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003288
Initial registration date
September 04, 2018
Last updated
September 05, 2018 10:35 PM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Goettingen
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, University of Erfurt, and University of Goettingen
PI Affiliation
TH Nuernberg Georg Simon Ohm
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2014-10-01
End date
2022-09-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Feedback can help individuals put their performance into perspective, especially when transitioning into a new environment such as university or a different job. In a randomized field experiment we give first-year university students normatively framed relativeperformance feedback about their accumulated course credits. We find an increase in subsequent performance, but only when the feedback is positive. Using a regression discontinuity design, we show that the improved performance is not driven by unobserved characteristics of those receiving positive feedback, but that it is indeed due to the positive rather than negative nature of the feedback. We administer a replication experiment with the next wave of first-year students one year later and reproduce the results. Survey data provides suggestive evidence that positive feedback has an effect on behavior when students underestimate their relative performance, and that consistent with a mechanism of selective information processing, individuals focus on positivefeedback to adjust their beliefs.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Brade, Raphael, Oliver Himmler and Robert Jäckle. 2018. "Normatively Framed Relative Performance Feedback – Field Experiment and Replication." AEA RCT Registry. September 05. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3288-1.0.
Former Citation
Brade, Raphael, Oliver Himmler and Robert Jäckle. 2018. "Normatively Framed Relative Performance Feedback – Field Experiment and Replication." AEA RCT Registry. September 05. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3288/history/33911.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2015-03-23
Intervention End Date
2022-09-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Obtained credit points as provided by the student office.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
The GPA as provided by the student office.
The number of attempted exams as provided by the student office.
The number of failed exams as provided by the student office.
Dropout as provided by the student office.
Subjective outcomes (collected in surveys): lecture visits, students’ satisfaction with the study program, life satisfaction, satisfaction with grades; time spent on studying, and stress level.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Students were randomly assigned to one of the following two conditions:
1) Absolute Feedback: this is the control condition. Students in this condition receive two letters in the mail informing them about their obtained credits in the previous semester.
2) Relative Feedback: this is the treatment condition. These students receive the same information, but the letters also inform them about how well they performed relative to the average student and the student on the 80th percentile. This information is augmented with normative messages of approval for those who obtained at least the average number of credits. For those below the average the approving normative messages are greyed out. We label the different types of feedback as follows: positive (= above average performance + approving normative message) and negative (= below average performance + no approving normative message).
Both groups receive absolute feedback with respect to their obtained GPA.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
812 students in Experiment I (initial trial)
797 students in Experiment II (replication)
Sample size: planned number of observations
812 students in Experiment I (initial trial) 797 students in Experiment II (replication)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
405 students in the control group in Experiment I (initial trial)
407 students in the treatment group in Experiment I (initial trial)
398 students in the control group in Experiment II (replication)
399 students in the treatment group in Experiment II (replication)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number