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Does Past Territorial Expansion Shape Preferences on Future Expansion?
Last registered on July 16, 2019


Trial Information
General Information
Does Past Territorial Expansion Shape Preferences on Future Expansion?
Initial registration date
July 15, 2019
Last updated
July 16, 2019 9:20 AM EDT
Primary Investigator
George Washington University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
This study assesses whether a country’s recent territorial expansion tends to whet or satiate “appetites” for further territorial expansion. Taking the case of Russia, which expanded by annexing the Crimean peninsula in 2014, it exposes randomly selected individuals either to be in a control group or to be exposed to one of the following three primes: a generic reminder that borders sometimes change in the course of history (a placebo), a statement that Russia incorporated Crimea in 2014, and the same statement about having incorporated combined with a statement that this prompted Western opposition and economic sanctions. The study then assesses whether these different primes are systematically associated with preferences regarding what the borders of Russia should be, with options including two shrinkage options, two expansion options, and one status quo option. The possibility of heterogeneous treatment effects will be explored, particularly regarding age, gender, education, ethnicity, and geographic place.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Hale, Henry. 2019. "Does Past Territorial Expansion Shape Preferences on Future Expansion?." AEA RCT Registry. July 16. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4449-1.0.
Former Citation
Hale, Henry. 2019. "Does Past Territorial Expansion Shape Preferences on Future Expansion?." AEA RCT Registry. July 16. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4449/history/50116.
Experimental Details
All respondents in a sample of adults in the Russian Federation designed to be nationally representative are given a question soliciting preferences regarding the ideal borders of Russia. Prior to receiving the question, respondents are given one of four different preambles.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The outcome variable is a categorical variable with five options regarding abstract preferences for Russian borders: 1. status quo minus Islamic parts of the North Caucasus, 2. status quo minus Crimea, 3. status quo, 4. status quo plus former Soviet lands populated by Slavs, and 4. the old Soviet borders. Of primary interest is the distinction between options that explicitly involve expansion (responses 4 and 5) and those that do not (all the rest). Of secondary importance is the distinction between options 4 and 5. Of tertiary interest is the distinction between those who support giving up Crimea (option 2) and the rest.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The outcome of primary interest is the differences in the responses produced by the control and the three treatments. These differences will enable the researcher to examine the extent to which having an instance of recent territorial expansion in mind (in this case, Crimea) influences preferences regarding future potential expansion and the degree to which this is moderated by having negative consequences of expansion in mind.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experiment (full text attached to this registry) is embedded in the monthly omnibus survey of the highly reputable independent Russian firm Levada Market Research (LMR), using their standard methodology.
Experimental Design Details
The experiment (full text attached to this registry) is embedded in the monthly omnibus survey of the highly reputable independent Russian firm Levada Market Research (LMR), using their regular multi-stage area probability sample* designed to be representative of the adult Russian Federation population. Interviews are conducted face-to-face, with tablets (the CAPI method) used for about four-fifths of the sample. For the remaining roughly one-fifth of the sample, visual aids are presented on and answers are recorded on paper (the PAPI method). Based on data from the Russian state statistical agency in 2015, LMR’s sample is distributed among the country’s eight federal districts and the capital city Moscow, with each district divided into five strata proportionally to adult population size. All cities with a population of over one million are included as self-representative units; in the remaining (non self-representing) strata, probability proportional to size (PPS) is used to elect 1-10 urban settlements (or rural districts in rural areas). The number of interviews in a given stratum is divided equally among selected settlements. In total, 137 primary sampling units (PSUs) are drawn, including 99 urban settlements and 38 rural districts in 48 subjects of the federation (official federation-forming regions). In each selected settlement, two electoral districts (or two villages in a rural district, 18 districts in Moscow, and 8 districts in St. Petersburg) are selected at random from a complete list of electoral districts (or villages where appropriate), resulting in about 280 secondary sampling units (SSUs). Selection of households is accomplished by the random route method using route lists, and one eligible adult per household is selected according to gender, age, and education level. People institutionalized in prisons or hospitals, people conscripted into the military, the homeless, and people living in very remote, difficult-to-access, or extremely small settlements are excluded from the sample.
Randomization Method
Roughly equal proportions of CAPI and PAPI respondents will receive each treatment. For the CAPI respondents in the sample, randomization is achieved using the randomization feature of the software Simpleforms, designed specifically for survey research. For the PAPI respondents in the sample, the research uses the randomization feature of the software Microsoft Excel to randomly assign one of the four versions of the randomized-preamble question described above to the number of each questionnaire to be administered as part of LMR’s omnibus survey. The survey agency then creates single-page “inserts,” with each insert containing only the correct version of the question to be administered for its assigned questionnaire and the number of that assigned questionnaire. The inserts are then inserted into the questionnaire assigned to that insert. The questionnaire itself (independently of the insert) contains not the actual question, but instructions for the enumerator to use the insert and instructions for recording the respondent’s response (count).
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
137 PSUs
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,602 adult residents of the Russian Federation
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
About 400 control, about 400 each for three treatments
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
George Washington University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Data Publication
Data Publication
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Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
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