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Beliefs and behaviors about COVID-19
Last registered on April 27, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Beliefs and behaviors about COVID-19
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005775
Initial registration date
April 27, 2020
Last updated
April 27, 2020 11:34 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
The Behaviouralist
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2020-03-26
End date
2020-03-29
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In this online experiment, we measure people's beliefs about COVID-19, and how these beliefs causally influence people's willingness to social distance. We randomly assign participants to conditions where they are shown upper- and lower-bound estimates of the infectiousness of R0, and use this assignment in order to conduct instrumental variable regressions.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Akesson, Jesper. 2020. "Beliefs and behaviors about COVID-19." AEA RCT Registry. April 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5775-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Participants are randomly assigned to one of two groups. Those in the first group are shown a message explaining that studies show that those who contract COVID-19 will, on average, infect two other people (called the lower-bound treatment). Those in the second group are shown a message explaining that studies show that those who contract COVID-19 will, on average, infect five other people (called the upper-bound treatment). The treatment messages are coupled with graphics illustrating how COVID-19 might spread if the virus is passed on three times at the respective levels of infectiousness.
Intervention Start Date
2020-03-26
Intervention End Date
2020-03-29
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
After being exposed to the treatments, we measure our key object of interest––participants’ beliefs about the infectiousness of COVID-19. More specifically, we ask “On average, how many people do you think will catch the Coronavirus from one contagious person? Please only consider cases transmitted by coughing, sneezing, touch or other direct contact with the contagious person”. Participants are free to enter any integer between 0 and 100.

Next, we ask participants about a number of other COVID-19-related beliefs: 1. the probability of being hospitalized conditional on contracting the virus, 2. the probability of dying conditional on being hospitalized for the virus, 3. the share of people in their country that are currently infected with COVID-19, 4. the share of people in their country that will catch COVID-19 by 31 August 2020, and 5. the chance that they get COVID-19 by 31 August 2020.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Further, we ask people about their willingness to comply with three COVID-19-related best practices for 1 week and 2 months. These best practices are 1) frequent handwashing, 2) working from home, and 3) not meeting people in high-risk groups. We choose these outcomes because they represent behaviors that are common components of governments’ COVID-19 mitigation strategies (see, for example, Cabinet Office, 2020). While we only measure stated intentions for future behavior and recognize the limitations of such measures, we see no reason to think that these limitations will have more of an effect on one treatment group than another. As a result, our estimated treatment effects should at least have the same sign as the true treatment effect on actual behaviors.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Participants are randomly assigned to one of two groups. Those in the first group are shown a message explaining that studies show that those who contract COVID-19 will, on average, infect two other people (called the lower-bound treatment). Those in the second group are shown a message explaining that studies show that those who contract COVID-19 will, on average, infect five other people (called the upper-bound treatment). The treatment messages are coupled with graphics illustrating how COVID-19 might spread if the virus is passed on three times at the respective levels of infectiousness.
Experimental Design Details
Participants are randomly assigned to one of two groups. Those in the first group are shown a message explaining that studies show that those who contract COVID-19 will, on average, infect two other people (called the lower-bound treatment). Those in the second group are shown a message explaining that studies show that those who contract COVID-19 will, on average, infect five other people (called the upper-bound treatment). The treatment messages are coupled with graphics illustrating how COVID-19 might spread if the virus is passed on three times at the respective levels of infectiousness.
Randomization Method
Randomization done using Qualtrics built-in program
Randomization Unit
Survey participant
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
1
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,428
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1214
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
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