Can a Pandemic Shape National Identity? The Case of Ukraine and COVID-19

Last registered on April 13, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Can a Pandemic Shape National Identity? The Case of Ukraine and COVID-19
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005709
Initial registration date
April 10, 2020
Last updated
April 13, 2020, 12:18 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
George Washington University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
ZOiS
PI Affiliation
University of Manchester
PI Affiliation
National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2020-04-13
End date
2020-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This study employs a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in order to improve our understanding of how a pandemic crisis can shape both national identity and the political consequences of national identity. It is conducted as part of a nationally representative telephone survey of 2000 adult residents of Ukraine in mid-April 2000, early in the COVID-19 outbreak. The study has three dimensions. First, it primes randomly assigned individuals on the pandemic crisis generally (including its economic, personal, and policy dimensions) and assesses whether this priming is associated with a change in what respondents say is the most important criterion for being a Ukrainian. Second, it treats another set of randomly selected respondents with a frame that explicitly contextualizes the virus threat in national terms, allowing us to investigate whether and how this national framing is associated with a change in what respondents say is the most important criterion for being a Ukrainian. Third, we investigate the political consequences of framing the pandemic crisis in national terms, assessing whether priming people on the national threat posed by the virus produces an increase in political support (in the form of job approval ratings) for Ukraine’s leadership relative to priming on the virus alone.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Hale, Henry et al. 2020. "Can a Pandemic Shape National Identity? The Case of Ukraine and COVID-19." AEA RCT Registry. April 13. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5709-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
This study is conducted with respondents in a survey of a nationally representative sample of 2000 residents of Ukraine. Respondents are divided randomly into five groups of roughly 400 each. The first serves as a control group. A second group is asked reflect on the people they know or have heard about in the news who have been infected by the virus. A third group is asked to think about those of “our people” who have been infected by the virus. The formulation “our people” is chosen because in a context like this it is understood in Ukraine to refer to a national group but without presuming any particular definition of that nation. A fourth and fifth group are asked to reflect on other aspects of the virus, its economic effects and how politicians are handling it. Groups two through five are asked to give the word that first comes to mind when thinking about this. Group one is not asked any version of this question, going on to the next question.
Intervention Start Date
2020-04-13
Intervention End Date
2020-04-24

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
For the first two parts of the study, the outcome of interest is the set of answers to a question that asks respondent to decide which among a list of possible criteria is the most important for telling who is really a Ukrainian and who is not. The list includes: speaking the Ukrainian language, being Ukrainian by descent, being a citizen of Ukraine, and living permanently in Ukraine. For the third part of the study, the outcome of interest is an 11-point scale of job approval for three relevant country leaders (most important for us is the president).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The larger outcomes of interest are the differences between the responses of the control and different treatment groups on the outcome questions (criteria for telling Ukrainianness, political support). More specifically, the first part of the study is interested in the differences between the control group and the groups receiving the three (non-national) pandemic primes in answers to the question on the criteria for being a Ukrainian. This will tell us whether and how the pandemic by itself (including different aspects of the pandemic crisis) can shape the criteria people use to define the nature of Ukrainianness. The second part of the study focuses on the difference in patterns of answers to the Ukrainianness question between the group receiving the “national pandemic” prime and those receiving the simple “pandemic” prime that lacks the national reference but is otherwise identically worded. This allow us to identify the effect not just of thinking about the virus but of framing it specifically in national identity terms. The third part of the study focuses on the difference in the answers on political support between the control group, the group receiving the national pandemic prime, and otherwise identical pandemic prime that lacks the national reference. Also important for us are the differences in these differences by ethnic categories and macroregions of Ukraine.

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 regular “omnibus” survey of the highly reputable Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS). The survey is based on a stratified random sample with the strata being defined by the three-digit main operator prefixes and random generation of the rest of the number. Interviews will be conducted by phone using the CATI method.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization in the assignment of respondents to control and treatment groups is achieved through the randomization function in KIIS’s survey software.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
0
Sample size: planned number of observations
2000 adult residents of Ukraine
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Approximately 400 in each of five randomly assigned groups.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
George Washington University
IRB Approval Date
2020-04-08
IRB Approval Number
IRB#NCR202427

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
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