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Motivated beliefs and information selection during a pandemic
Last registered on May 15, 2020


Trial Information
General Information
Motivated beliefs and information selection during a pandemic
Initial registration date
May 13, 2020
Last updated
May 15, 2020 2:19 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
Goethe University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
Swiss National Bank
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Using an online survey, we study how households’ exposure to health risks and economic risks associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affects the type of news articles they choose to read (optimistic or pessimistic), and the extent to which the content of the news articles affects their beliefs about the consequences of the pandemic and about the appropriate policy response.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Faia, Ester et al. 2020. "Motivated beliefs and information selection during a pandemic." AEA RCT Registry. May 15. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5850-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Preferences over different types of news articles; ratings of article expectations about number of fatalities attributed to COVID-19 by end of 2020; expectations about unemployment rate at the end of 2020; preference for lockdown policy); possible social media promotion of news source from which they saw article; possible donation to one of two organizations supporting or opposing lockdowns.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Respondents are first asked about their level of concern about the health risks of COVID-19 for themselves and close family/friends; then similarly they are asked about concern about economic risks. We also elicit their estimates of current and future (year-end) number of fatalities attributed to COVID-19; the US unemployment rate; and their assessment of stay-home/lockdown policies. They are then asked if they would prefer to read an article about the health risks of the COVID-19 or the economic risk. Within each of the domains (health/economic risks), they are asked to rank two different headlines in terms of which article they would prefer to read. The headlines (and the associated articles) differ in terms of their tone, with one clearly more optimistic than the other. They are randomly shown one of the articles, and asked to assess it in terms of informativeness and trustworthiness. Then, they are asked again for forecasts of number of fatalities and the unemployment rate, and about their policy preferences. They are also given the option to allocate money (provided by experimenter) to (1) the promotion of the news source from which they read the article on social media, and (2) donate to one of two organizations that either supported or opposed lockdowns.
There are two treatment arms (run sequentially): in the first arm, the sources of the news articles are not provided. In the second arm (which will be run after the first arm), the sources of the news articles will be provided to a subset of respondents, and the tone of the article descriptions (which here are generic rather than in the form of headlines, and only about health topics) will be randomized within news source. The samples for the two arms will be non-overlapping.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2000 for treatment arm where news sources not provided
1500 for treatment arm where news sources provided
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Ethics Committee at Goethe University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)