Diversity and Peer Effects

Last registered on October 07, 2019


Trial Information

General Information

Diversity and Peer Effects
Initial registration date
October 05, 2019

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
October 07, 2019, 9:32 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
October 07, 2019, 10:46 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


Primary Investigator

Harvard University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We study the role of social interactions in shaping the evolution of political values and attitudes. Social interactions --- especially through the public expression of political values and attitudes --- interact with social image considerations, affecting not only belief updating about the social environment, but also information sharing within groups. This could generate multiple equilibria for the social group, depending on prior beliefs about the social environment and the nature of early interactions. To study this question, we combine a panel survey with a field experiment at a major US university. Our results are relevant to a wide range of settings in which social norms shape social learning.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Rao, Aakaash, David Yang and Noam Yuchtman. 2019. "Diversity and Peer Effects." AEA RCT Registry. October 07. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4820-1.1
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Intervention 1: We collaborate with the course instructor to assign students to study groups that vary in composition. In order to incentivize students to study together, we provide study groups with a stipend to purchase food and beverages at their meetings.
Intervention 2: We vary whether students are told about the private beliefs of their fellow study group members.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Survey measures of public and private beliefs
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We assess the effects of our intervention (described above) on a range of social outcomes, as measured through surveys.
Experimental Design Details
We are interested in three primary outcomes, which we measure through comprehensive midline and endline surveys and a follow-up survey at the end of the academic year in order to investigate treatment effect persistence:

Beliefs about social environment, in particular, inference on peers’ types: do students who were (1) randomized into groups with more local students and (2) randomized into groups that learned the average social views of their peers draw different inferences about Chinese students’ beliefs?
Publicly expressed political attitudes and information. This would allow us to examine whether beliefs about social environment and/or composition of the social group affect information shared among the social group members.
Public-private gap: as a result of more accurate inference, are Chinese students more willing to publicly express their true beliefs about politically sensitive topics? This might be so if students believe their peers to be more liberal, but even if the intervention serves only to reduce uncertainty about other students’ views (leaving the mean unchanged), it might also result in greater willingness to express private views if students are risk-averse.
Private beliefs: as a result of greater information sharing and reduced barriers to social learning, do students’ private beliefs about politically sensitive topics change?
Randomization Method
Randomization is done in office via an R script (with a specified seed for reproducibility).
Randomization Unit
Students randomized into study groups; study groups randomized into a misperceptions correction treatment.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Up to 100 groups
Sample size: planned number of observations
Up to 500 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We anticipate around 100 groups and 400-500 study participants.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Approximately 0.34 standard deviations
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Chicago Social and Behavioral Sciences IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials