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Testing Contact Theory in a Field Experiment
Last registered on March 02, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Testing Contact Theory in a Field Experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003955
Initial registration date
February 28, 2019
Last updated
March 02, 2019 12:59 PM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Tilburg University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Tilburg University
PI Affiliation
Tilburg University
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-02-01
End date
2019-06-13
Secondary IDs
Abstract
About 15% of the population in the Netherlands and other European countries have an immigrant background (either first, second or third generation). The percentage is likely to increase in the near future due to immigration flows from the Middle East and Northern Africa, and the expected demographic changes caused by, for example, climate change. This poses challenges for society. To illustrate, immigrants in the Netherlands and other European countries are more likely to be at risk of poverty, are more likely to be unemployed, and, if employed, earn substantially less than natives or have a job for which they are overqualified.
Several factors underlie the achievement gap between “natives” and people with an immigrant background. Research has shown that discrimination, referring to differential treatment of others under ceteris paribus conditions, may be one of the factors. A key question for policy makers and scientists is how such discrimination can be overcome. An answer to the question can possibly be found in Allport (1954)’s contact theory. The theory presumes that discrimination is the consequence of natives viewing others with an immigrant background as an ‘out-group’ with whom they have little in common. The theory predicts that positive contact in the form of personal interaction, sharing of common goals, cooperating in joint projects reduces discrimination. In this paper we study whether positive contact indeed reduces discrimination in the context of social interaction between Dutch natives and people with an immigrant background.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Freddi, Eleonora, Jan Potters and Sigrid Suetens. 2019. "Testing Contact Theory in a Field Experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. March 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3955-1.0.
Former Citation
Freddi, Eleonora et al. 2019. "Testing Contact Theory in a Field Experiment ." AEA RCT Registry. March 02. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3955/history/42317.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2019-03-12
Intervention End Date
2019-03-13
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
A choice in an ultimatum game as responder and a choice in a deception game as communicator.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We run a field experiment with native Dutch people. The participants participate in a team task and each team is assigned a supervisor. In some teams the supervisor has a native Dutch background and in other teams the supervisor has an immigrant background. As such we obtain exogenous variation in the degree of positive contact with someone who has an immigrant background. Participants nor supervisors are aware that they are participating in an experiment.
A month later we elicit choices in order to study whether the participants treat people with an immigrant background differently than native Dutch. The participants first make a choice in an ultimatum game in the role of responder (i.e. they are asked their minimum acceptable offer) and then make a choice in a deception game in the role of communicator following Danilov and Saccardo (2015). Some of the participants are matched to a proposer who has an immigrant background and the other participants are matched with a native Dutch proposer. Proposers and responders are anonymous to each other, but responders know the first name of the proposer. This name serves as a signal of immigrant background. If there is a gap in the minimum acceptable offer in the sense that the minimum acceptable offer is higher in the “immigrant” treatment than in the “native” treatment, then we interpret this as discrimination against those with an immigrant background. In the deception game the participants are again matched to an anonymous partner and are only informed about the name of their partner. They have the option to tell the truth about the outcome of a dice roll, or to lie in favor of the partner, which comes at a small cost for oneself. If the percentage of lies is higher in the “native” treatment than in the “immigrant” treatment, we take this as discrimination.

Experimental Design Details
We run a field experiment with native Dutch adolescents who are in the fifth grade of a Dutch secondary school (“gymnasium”), and who participate in a program at Tilburg University aimed at getting them acquainted with academic teaching and research in economics. The gymnasium pupils come to the campus for two halve days of lectures, with a month in between. In one of the lectures on the first halve day they are at the campus they participate in a team task supervised by students who are enrolled in an economics or business program at the university. The teams consist of one university student and two or three gymnasium pupils who do not know each other. Other than that the pupils are not in the same team as one of their classroom mates, they are randomly allocated to the teams. In some teams the university student has a native Dutch background and in other teams the student has an immigrant background. As such we obtain exogenous variation in the degree of positive contact with a student who has an immigrant background. Students nor pupils are aware that they are participating in an experiment. The second time the gymnasium pupils are at the campus, we elicit choices in one of the lectures. In order to study whether they treat adolescents with an immigrant background differently than Dutch adolescents, the pupils first make a choice in an ultimatum game in the role of responder and then make a choice in a deception game in the role of communicator following Danilov and Saccardo (2015). In the ultimatum game they are asked to state the minimum acceptable offer in the case where the proposer gets 40 Euro and is asked how much (s)he would like to offer to the responder. Some of the pupils are matched to a proposer who has an immigrant background (and who goes to school in the Netherlands) and the other pupils are matched with a native Dutch proposer (who also goes to school in the Netherlands). Proposers and responders are anonymous to each other, but responders know the first name of the proposer. This name serves as a signal of immigrant background. If there is a gap in the minimum acceptable offer in the sense that the minimum acceptable offer is higher in the “immigrant” treatment than in the “native” treatment, then we interpret this as discrimination against those with an immigrant background. In the deception game the pupils are again matched to an anonymous partner and are only informed about the name of their partner. They have the option to tell the truth about the outcome of a dice roll, or to lie in favor of the partner, which comes at a small cost for oneself. If the percentage of lies is higher in the “native” treatment than in the “immigrant” treatment, we take this as discrimination. Eight students (four with Arabic/Turkish sounding names and four with Dutch sounding names) enrolled at Tilburg University are recruited to play the role of both proposers in the ultimatum game and receivers in the deception game. In May/June participants will be debriefed in a lecture that takes place on campus.
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Randomization of the treatment was done at the level of the participants.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
51 supervisors=51 teams
Sample size: planned number of observations
175 participants
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
14 supervisors with immigrant background (treatment) and 37 supervisors Dutch native (control).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
TiSEM Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2019-01-25
IRB Approval Number
2019-001
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS