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The Role of Memory in Beliefs Formation
Last registered on August 01, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Role of Memory in Beliefs Formation
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004526
Initial registration date
August 09, 2019
Last updated
August 01, 2020 5:42 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
MIT
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Microsoft Research and NBER
PI Affiliation
University of Michigan
Additional Trial Information
Status
Withdrawn
Start date
2019-08-09
End date
2020-08-08
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This experiment studies how people memory limitations affect the process of beliefs formations.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Mobius, Markus, Tanya Rosenblat and Pierre-Luc Vautrey. 2020. "The Role of Memory in Beliefs Formation." AEA RCT Registry. August 01. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4526-1.1.
Former Citation
Mobius, Markus et al. 2020. "The Role of Memory in Beliefs Formation." AEA RCT Registry. August 01. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4526/history/73442.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2019-08-09
Intervention End Date
2020-08-08
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Double counting. Effect of time decay (through distraction) on double counting.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The outcomes are constructed using logit belief updates regressions which are described formally in the PDF attached.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Can double counting be explained only by limited attention and imperfect recognition?
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
This is based on theoretical bounds on double counting that we derive in the attached PDF.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experiment consists in having participant read fictional news about a fictional company and reporting their beliefs about the state of the world, which is an attribute of the company influencing the production of news. Some news will organically appear repeatedly while others will not and we focus on understand how memory and attention limitations shape over-reaction to repeated news.

Experimental Design Details
The experiment consists of three stages. During the news generation and presentation stage, we generate a valence-neutral set of eight facts stylized as newspaper snippets drawn without replacement from a base set of twelve facts about a fictional company. Each fact exists in a positive and a negative version. Each fact is then assigned a valence of positive or negative to define the subject-specific set of eight facts. Each subject will be shown and asked to carefully read two independent news pages, where each news page consists of five facts drawn without replacement from the subject-specific set of facts. The content of each fact remains the same on each news page whereas the exact wording of each fact differs slightly from page to page. Subjects will then be asked about their belief of the quality of the company's management conditional on the newspaper snippets they will have read in the belief elicitation stage. In the recognition stage, subjects will be shown twelve facts: the eight facts in the subject-specific set and the four other facts from the base set, and will be tasked with recognizing whether or not they had read each snippet. This will be followed by a facts free recall task where subjects are asked to recall as many facts as they can, as accurately as possible. Finally, all the subjects will complete a words free recall task at the end (unrelated to the other sections) in order to get an independent measure of their recall performance. The experiment has two treatment arms. The first treatment arm is the decay treatment: subjects complete a simple three-minute long incentivized task; participants in the no-decay control group complete the filler task at the end of the experiment whereas the decay-inducing treatment group complete the filler task in between the news generation and belief elicitation stages. Screenshots of the experiment from the subjects' perspective are available in the attached PDF.
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Individual.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
700 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
700 invidivuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
350 in Decay-Inducing treatment, 350 in No Decay treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We used a bootstrap approach to power calculation using pilot data. See the attached PDF.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
MIT Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (COUHES)
IRB Approval Date
2019-07-25
IRB Approval Number
E-1562
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information
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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