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Learning in the Household
Last registered on February 27, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Learning in the Household
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004253
Initial registration date
May 29, 2019
Last updated
February 27, 2020 12:03 AM EST
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PI Affiliation
Harvard University
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-06-01
End date
2020-06-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We run lab-in-the-field experiments in India to study learning in a household setting and identify the factors that impede the efficient aggregation of information in households. We will ask couples to make a joint decision – guessing the color composition of an urn full of red and white balls – and give each spouse, separately and privately, a chance to learn information relevant to that decision (i.e., randomly sample balls from the urn). The couple is then asked to discuss and share information and provide a “joint” guess. We will analyze how each spouse’s private information and beliefs influence the final household guess under various treatment conditions.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Conlon, John et al. 2020. "Learning in the Household." AEA RCT Registry. February 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4253-2.0.
Former Citation
Conlon, John et al. 2020. "Learning in the Household." AEA RCT Registry. February 27. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4253/history/63423.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We will ask couples to make a joint decision – guessing the color composition of an urn full of red and white balls – and give each spouse, separately and privately, a chance to learn information relevant to that decision (i.e., randomly sample balls from the urn). The couple is then asked to discuss and share information and provide a “joint” guess. We will analyze how each spouse’s private information and beliefs influence the final household guess under various treatment conditions.
Intervention Start Date
2019-06-01
Intervention End Date
2020-06-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The expected payoff (i.e. accuracy) of guesses, calculated relative to a Bayesian benchmark; the relative weights that joint or individual guesses place on the husband’s and wife’s private information or guesses.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We will recruit both couples and pairs of individuals in Chennai, India. Each couple or pair will play several rounds of an experimental game in which their primary objective is to guess the number of red balls in an urn containing 20 balls, each of which is either red or white. Individuals start with a common prior, since they are truthfully informed that the number of red balls was randomly drawn from a known distribution.
Experimental Design Details
After the couple is introduced to and practices the task, each spouse is asked in turn to make, privately, a certain number of draws with replacement from the urn. They are then asked, still in private, to guess how many red balls there are in the urn. Next, we bring the two spouses together and ask them to discuss what they saw and make a joint guess. Finally, we separate the spouses and elicit once again their private prediction (which may differ from the joint guess). To incentivise accurate guessing, we randomly select at the end of the experiment one of the guesses (individual or joint) that have been made, and pay couples according to the deviation of this guess from the true number of red balls. Couples stand to earn up to 210 rupees (about $3) from guessing accurately -- a significant amount for this population. The key treatment condition is the number of draws from the urn each spouse has. We choose this number randomly and independently for each spouse, and make it clear to them that we choose it in this way. This creates random variation in which spouse is relatively better-informed. In other rounds, we will extend the basic design to identify the mechanisms behind inefficiencies and asymmetries in aggregation. In particular, we consider the following mechanisms: Do individuals do just as poorly if they privately receive all information themselves, suggesting that the underlying issue is not specific to social learning? We test this by having individuals play rounds which mimic the basic design, but in which they personally draw balls from the urn twice, instead of relying on a discussion with their spouse for the second set of information. Are failures in efficient information aggregation explained entirely by a failure to share information in the first place? Or is information shared by others under-/over-weighted (conditional on being shared)? We test this in two ways: first, by recording the conversation during the free-form discussion section of the main experiment, and by contrasting performance in the free-discussion rounds with rounds in which we directly share information between spouses. Are failures to share information or appropriately weight information provided by one’s spouse explained by (potentially inaccurate) beliefs about relative competence? We test this by directly eliciting each individual’s beliefs about the other’s competence using incentivized survey questions. Alternatively, do individuals simply generically place greater weight while learning on their own experiences compared to the experiences of others? We see this as a very plausible residual explanation: that people may generally find their own experiences to be far more salient than others’ experiences, and may thus over-weight their own experiences. We test this by estimating how people update their private guess when told the information of their spouse (or paired individual). In the case of disagreement between spouses, is the husband’s information weighted more heavily in the joint decision? Bayesian individuals should converge on the same answer after sharing information, but we will test this by allowing each spouse to make a further private guess after they have discussed and made a joint guess about the number of balls. If the two spouses disagree, we can infer the bargaining weights implicitly placed on each of their guesses in determining the joint household guess. We can then test whether who acts as the (more) dominant decision maker in the household is related to (actual or perceived) relative competence. Are the failures of information aggregation we study specific to learning within the household? Or might such failures occur more generally between any two individuals of different gender in the Indian context, or even between individuals of the same gender? We study this by repeating the basic design of the experiment with same vs. mixed-gender teams comprised of strangers.
Randomization Method
Randomization is conducted using a random number generator in Stata
Randomization Unit
Individual/Couple level
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
400 couples
Sample size: planned number of observations
400
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We do not have treatment arms as such. Each of the 400 couples will undergo 5 rounds of the experiment with potentially different treatments.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials
Documents
Document Name
Follow-Up Experiment
Document Type
other
Document Description
Following our initial run of this trial, we have decided to do a follow-up experiment to explore the mechanisms behind some of our results. This document describes the follow-up experiment and serves as pre-registration of it.
File
Follow-Up Experiment

MD5: dff5c44c92947f9d12cc2ca7843b457c

SHA1: 5f3a7d38412a290a3e9aefe2f579746e133bc0af

Uploaded At: February 27, 2020

IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects, MIT
IRB Approval Date
2018-11-13
IRB Approval Number
1810538700
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