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Do Identities Stick or Flicker? (Framed Field Experiment)
Last registered on August 12, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Do Identities Stick or Flicker? (Framed Field Experiment)
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005236
Initial registration date
January 13, 2020
Last updated
August 12, 2020 2:52 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
CIDE
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2015-10-13
End date
2015-12-08
Secondary IDs
Abstract
To test whether social identities are hard to change, can be activated with the environment, or some hybrid of the two, we ran a two-phase charitable giving framed field experiment and a complementary natural field experiment. Donation petitions varied the state in which the beneficiaries resided, and in whether they primed the nation. Testing between theories requires a prime that is uninformative and makes the nation top-of-mind, as well as a baseline measurement of subjects' identity. Across a variety of decisions, regionalists behave differently than nationalists at baseline. Only regionalists are affected when the nation is primed, and their choices become more like that of nationalists. We propose a hybrid theory, in which nationalists have the nation top-of-mind at baseline, unlike regionalists who can therefore be affected by a national prime.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Fernandez Duque, Mauricio. 2020. "Do Identities Stick or Flicker? (Framed Field Experiment)." AEA RCT Registry. August 12. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5236-1.3.
Sponsors & Partners
Sponsor(s)
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The intervention studies the impact of varying a donation petition. We studied the impact of varying the state in Mexico where the beneficiaries of donation petition cards resided, as well as whether the petition included a national prime. We were interested in whether individuals had an in-region bias, whether the bias was affected by the prime, and whether these effects differed according to individuals' attachment to the region and the nation. We measured attachment in a baseline two weeks earlier than the endline.
Intervention Start Date
2015-10-13
Intervention End Date
2015-12-08
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We are interested in several outcome variables. The key outcome variables are the following:

- How much money was donated to an NGO from an endowment of 100 pesos.
- Subjects' cognition about the states Our main question was whether subjects found it easier to think of the beneficiary state as part of a region or as part of Mexico.
- Subjects attachment to the region and the nation. We asked subjects how attached they were to the region and to the nation, each on a 5-point Likert scale.
- Subjects redistributive preferences to the assigned state. We asked subjects how much they would support a redistributive policy that would mostly benefit their beneficiary state.
- Whether the prime made the nation salient and whether the prime was uninformative. To get at whether the prime made the nation salient, we asked them to give five words that came to mind after observing the donation petition. To get at whether the prime was uninformative, we asked a battery of questions related to the NGO, the beneficiary state and the attractiveness of the card what would affect the donation decision.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
College students from ITAM, a private university in Mexico, took part in two short online surveys between October 13th and December 8th, 2015.

In the first survey, they selected the state they had the strongest connection to, as well as the region that they thought corresponded to that state. In addition, they were asked about their national and regional attachment (each on a 5-point Likert scale), how they ranked the states by income levels, and sociodemographic characteristics. This information was used to define subjects' regions, select rich and poor states within the in-region and out-region, and randomly choose one state from each of those subsets. It was also used to identify regionalists (those more attached to their region) and nationalists (those not more attached to their region).

A second survey was conducted at least two weeks after the first. Subjects who entered the second survey were assigned to a treatment that was either an in-region or out-region state with or without a nationalist prime. We blocked on regional identity, and randomized whether they were assigned a rich or poor state within their region in order to improve balance.

Subjects in the endline survey were exposed to a donation petition towards helping child development efforts in their assigned state. The donation petition are cards which feature the name of the NGO, three indigenous children and the caption `Thanks for nourishing the children of [Name of state]'. The card varies on two dimensions: the name of the state, and whether or not it contains nationalist colors. The nationalist colors, which are the colors of the flag, replace the teal color of the alternative version in the card's frame and in the letters of the name of the state.

The endline survey had four types of questions. The first type of question was meant to get at whether the prime brought the nation to the top of mind, and whether it was informative. To get at top-of-mindedness, we asked an open ended word association question. We allowed subjects to give five answers. To get at informativeness of the prime, we asked questions regarding the efficiency of the NGO, the political parties ruling the state, organizations tied to the NGO, the poverty level of the state, and the poverty of the beneficiaries, as well as about the perceived attractiveness of the card.

The second type of question was meant to test for allocation decisions. We had two variables to capture this. The first was a dictator game, in which subjects were told that, in case they won a 100 peso prize, they could allocate any part of the prize to beneficiaries from the donation petition. About 10\% of subjects received the prize, which was raffled among all endline participants. The second question was about redistribution. We asked how in favor they were of a policy that would tax the nation and whose benefits were concentrated on the state they were assigned.

The third type of question asked about cognition. We wanted a question that got at whether the prime made subjects think of the state differently with the prime. In order to do so, our main question is `When you think of [Name of state], is it easier for you to think of it as part of a region or as part of Mexico?'. We asked this question not only of the assigned state, but of the three other states that would have been assigned to the subject had she been in alternative treatment arms. A second question we asked was whether they thought the state is similar to other states in Mexico.

The fourth type of question asked the same regional and nationalist attachment questions as in the baseline. We did not want subjects to answer based on their memory of what they answered in the baseline, which is part of why the endline survey came two weeks after the baseline.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
To randomize, at the beginning of the baseline survey we assigned subjects a state in their region or outside their region. We further randomized whether the state was rich or poor. We use this to control for donations based on need, and not identity. The rich (poor) states the subjects were assigned were subjectively identified by the subject as rich (poor), and either widely perceived by others to be rich or objectively relatively rich (poor) using 2013 GDP.

There were 13% of respondents whose in-region states did not vary in terms of income (i.e. having both rich and poor states). We faced a trade-off between sticking strictly to the states the subject selected as part of his or her region and balancing on state income. We favored the latter. If a region had a middle-income and rich or poor state, we considered it balanced, if not, we added a state that at least a third of the subjects of the same state considered part of their region.

Once we had defined the set of in-region rich and poor states and out-region rich and poor states we randomly chose one state from each set. We then assigned subjects to one of four conditions: in-region with prime, in-region without prime, out-region with prime, and out-region without prime.

We block-randomized on regionalism. Regionalism is defined by the difference between their reported attachment to their region and their nation.
Randomization Unit
Subjects
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
955 subjects signed up for the baseline. 580 of those signed up for the endline.
Sample size: planned number of observations
955 subjects signed up for the baseline. 580 of those signed up for the endline.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
There are 142 subjects assigned to a state in their own region and a prime
There are 151 subjects assigned to a state outside of their own region and a prime
There are 141 subjects assigned to a state in their own region and without a prime
There are 146 sbjects assigned to a state outside of their own region and without a prime
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Harvard University Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2015-10-02
IRB Approval Number
MOD-22590-01
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
December 03, 2015, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
December 03, 2015, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
580
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
580
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
There are 142 subjects assigned to a state in their own region and a prime There are 151 subjects assigned to a state outside of their own region and a prime There are 141 subjects assigned to a state in their own region and without a prime There are 146 sbjects assigned to a state outside of their own region and without a prime
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
Abstract
To test whether social identities are hard to change, can be activated with the environment, or some hybrid of the two, we ran a two-phase charitable giving framed field experiment and a complementary natural field experiment. Donation petitions varied the state in which the beneficiaries resided, and in whether they primed the nation. Testing between theories requires a prime that is uninformative and makes the nation top-of-mind, as well as a baseline measurement of subjects' identity. Across a variety of decisions, regionalists behave differently than nationalists at baseline. Only regionalists are affected when the nation is primed, and their choices become more like that of nationalists. We propose a hybrid theory, in which nationalists have the nation top-of-mind at baseline, unlike regionalists who can therefore be affected by a national prime.
Citation
Fernández Duque, Mauricio. 2020. "Do Identities Stick, Flicker, Or Something In Between? Theory And Experimental Evidence From Regionalism In Mexico
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS