Social distancing and leisure activities after COVID-19

Last registered on January 05, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Social distancing and leisure activities after COVID-19
Initial registration date
April 05, 2020

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
April 06, 2020, 1:40 PM EDT

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

Last updated
January 05, 2021, 7:20 AM EST

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



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The Chinese government is imposing drastic lockdown measures on its population, limiting individuals' freedom of movement. Previous research predominantly focuses on the impacts of social distancing on disease spreading, yet the associated social consequences of lockdowns have been largely understudied. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 epidemic, this study aims at understanding people’s behavioral pathways for leisure demand in the post-pandemic phase. Specifically, we wish to understand how people construct their leisure demand based on their perception of behaviors of peers living in their close geographic proximity. In addition, we investigate their responses to precautionary measures implemented by local businesses.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Zheng, Siqi. 2021. "Social distancing and leisure activities after COVID-19." AEA RCT Registry. January 05.
Experimental Details


The experiment has 3 treatment arms. In treatment arm 1, individuals will receive information about their peer's weekend plans. In treatment arm 2, individuals will receive information about the measures implemented in the local businesses. Treatment arm 3 will receive both pieces of information. The control group will receive no information.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Actual behaviors on the weekend (both question & GPS)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Actual behaviors for the weekend. Every Sunday evening, respondents will be asked how many times they had visited parks or restaurants over the weekend (separately). Individuals have to specify the exact times and places (parks and restaurants) that they have visited over the weekend. In addition, individuals in the sample has installed an app that tracks their GPS location every 8 seconds. The GPS allows to validate the self-reported outcomes. We will test whether the GPS location of the individual is within a radius of the reported place. For the validation of self-reported measures, we will set an initial 20-meters buffer around the reported restaurant/park, and build a dummy variable that takes the value of 1 if the coordinates of an individual’s phone is within the buffer.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Perceived Risk
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Perceived Risk: Every Friday individuals are asked on a Likert scale: How risky do you feel about dining out at a nearby restaurant this weekend? (7-level Likert scale). And How risky do you feel about going to a nearby park this weekend? (7-level Likert scale)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We will implement a 2x2 design where a random set of individuals will receive either one intervention, the two interventions, or none.
Experimental Design Details
We will implement a 2 by 2 design where the sample is divided into 4 groups: control group, treatment group 1 (information about the proportion of peers going out to a restaurant or park the upcoming weekend), information group 2 (receiving information about the proportion of restaurants in the area that are certified by Dianping as “Meituan Safe Dining Restaurants”, indicating that they adopted all satisfactory precautionary strategies to prevent COVID-19 virus infection, including frequent disinfection, temperature testing, and maintaining the appropriate distance between tables, etc.) and ultimately treatment group 3 (receiving both pieces of information the peers' behavior and the proportion of restaurants that are taking precautionary measures in his/her neighborhood).

Finally, in week 5 we will test whether the precautionary measures undertaken by neighbors (See treatment scripts) will reduce the health risks associated with the increased perception of the number of people in the neighborhood going to restaurants and parks.
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in the office by a computer.
We will follow a block randomization method. The blocking variables are the urban district where the individual lives and the baseline frequency of visiting restaurants, described as the frequency of visitation before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
600 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
600 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control (no information): 150
Treatment arm 1 (only peer behavior information): 150
Treatment arm 2 (only peer restaurant precautionary measures information): 150
Treatment arm 3 (both peer restaurant precautionary measures information and peer behavior information): 150
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (COUHES)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Pre-analysis plan updated on week 5 of experiment with extra treatment

MD5: 03d051c48a5c34b12ae9c01f9bbbc8fb

SHA1: db061f4f0f8eb83837e126f65cc3e4a60065f9c4

Uploaded At: January 05, 2021


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
May 06, 2020, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
May 16, 2020, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
622 individuals
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
2,342 observations (weeks in sample x individuals)
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
168 pure control, 161 receiving only descriptive norm, 144 receiving only restaurant certificate and 149 receiving restaurant certificate and descriptive norm
Data Publication

Data Publication

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Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials