x

NEW UPDATE: Completed trials may now upload and register supplementary documents (e.g. null results reports, populated pre-analysis plans, or post-trial results reports) in the Post Trial section under Reports, Papers, & Other Materials.
Religiosity and Support for Militancy in Afghanistan: Reassessing the Causal Relationship
Last registered on June 30, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Religiosity and Support for Militancy in Afghanistan: Reassessing the Causal Relationship
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006086
Initial registration date
June 26, 2020
Last updated
June 30, 2020 11:56 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Princeton University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2020-03-15
End date
2020-07-15
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Muslim countries have experienced a drastic rise in the number of civil wars, and religion is assumed to be central to these armed conflicts. Muslims in countries experiencing armed conflicts perform religious rituals more frequently and express stronger religious beliefs than Muslims in peaceful countries. These patterns have led researchers to focus on whether and to what extent religiosity leads to support for violence among Muslims. This study argues that we need to focus on the reverse causal relationship: how violence leads to religious intensity as a psychological coping mechanism. Building on psychological theories of religion, I argue that exposure to violence leads to religious intensity among civilians, regardless of their support for Islamist militant groups. After exposure to violence, those who are initially less supportive of Islamist militant groups express stronger religious beliefs but even less support for Islamist militant groups and religious institutions supporting Islamist militancy. The research design takes advantage of the as-if random nature of insurgent violence and includes a survey experiment to assess how reminding civilians the increased risk of violence affects their religious beliefs.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Isaqzadeh, Mohammad. 2020. "Religiosity and Support for Militancy in Afghanistan: Reassessing the Causal Relationship." AEA RCT Registry. June 30. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6086-1.2000000000000002.
Sponsors & Partners
Sponsor(s)
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
This study includes a baseline survey that is currently being administered in Kabul. The follow-up survey will be conducted with the same respondents after the rise of insurgent violence in the fall. Both rounds of survey include an experimental module that combines priming, an
endorsement experiment, and a donation exercise. One third of the respondents are
randomly primed and reminded of the increasing risk of suicide attacks in Kabul if the peace
process fails. Another third are reminded of the prospect of a drastic decline in violence if
the peace process succeeds. The remaining respondents will be administered a neutral prime.
The objective is to study how reminding the respondents of the risk of suicide attacks
affects religious beliefs and support for Islamist militant groups and religious institutions. In
terms of religious beliefs, the experimental module concentrates on how the primes affect the
respondents' belief in a controlling God.
Intervention Start Date
2020-03-15
Intervention End Date
2020-07-15
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Religiosity, belief in a controlling God
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
For measuring religiosity, the survey includes a religiosity index, a battery of questions
that cover both individual spirituality -- prayers, recitation of the Quran and beliefs in the
afterlife -- and social aspects of religion, such as participation in congregations and religious
ceremonies. In addition, the survey assesses religious beliefs, particularly the belief in a controlling God, measured through these three
questions:
• Consider the safety of your family. How much do you think it depends on your efforts
and how much it depends on God's help?
• Think about earning money to make a livelihood for your family. In your opinion how
much does it depend on your efforts and how much does it depend on God's help?
• How much do you think not catching a disease such as COVID-19 depends on your
precaution and how much does it depend on God's help?
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Support for the Taliban, support for religious institutions
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Support for the Taliban is measured using an endorsement experiment with questions on
policies that are relevant for Afghanistan. These questions reflect views that are usually
supported by the Taliban and other conservative religious circles in the Afghan society. Half
of the respondents will be randomly administered the questions without the endorsement
statement (the sentence enclosed in square brackets). The other half will be administered the question
with the endorsement statement.

• Some people believe that the spread of diseases is due to people being sinful. [Taliban
also agree with this view.] What is your opinion?
• Some people believe that women could be treated by female doctors only. [Taliban also
agree with this view.] What is your opinion?
• Some people believe that women should be allowed to work in hospitals only, and not
in other places. [The Taliban also support this view.] What is your opinion?

For assessing support for religious institutions, the survey incorporates a donation exercise.
For each interview, 55 Afs (around 75 cents) will be donated either to a mosque, a public
school, or a madrasa. However, the decision to allocate money to these institutions will be
left to respondents. The respondents will be randomized into three conditions. In 1/3 of the
interviews, the respondents will be asked to decide how 55 Afs should be donated between
a public school and a madrasa. In another third of interviews, they are asked to divide the
donation money between a public school and a mosque. In the remaining third, they are
asked to divide the money between a mosque and a madrasa. Mosques represent places of worship and are usually more liberal than madrasas -- particularly in Kabul. With government's oversight of mosques in Kabul, public sermons delivered
in Kabul mosques are rarely supportive of the Taliban or their ideology. On the contrary,
the government has a limited oversight of madrasas and their curricular. Since Madrasas
are often funded by fundamentalist circles in the Gulf states, they are perceived to be more
supportive of the Taliban ideology and sometimes even provide recruitment pools for the
Taliban and other insurgent groups. Public schools represent educational institutions that
are secular, compared to mosques and madrasas.

Since the donation exercise asks the respondents to allocate the money between these
institutions in a zero-sum manner, the exercise can provide a good indicator of support
for secular institutions, liberal religious institutions and religious institutions that usually
support Islamist militant groups. This exercise provides another method for exploring the
nuanced relationship between violence and support for religious institutions.


Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The respondents are randomly administered three different primes. One third of respondents will be reminded the increasing risk of violence and suicide attacks in Kabul if the current peace process fails. Another one third will be reminded the prospect for a significant decline in violence if the current peace process succeeds. The remaining third will be reminded the benefits of exercise.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The data collection is done using smart phones and SurveyCTO -- a platform with a mobile application for electronic data collection. The randomization of primes is conducted automatically by the SurveyCTO application.
Randomization Unit
individual respondents
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
The treatment is not clustered.
Sample size: planned number of observations
1600 male adult respondents
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1600 interviews for the baseline survey and follow-up interviews with the same respondents
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Based on similar studies, 3 to 5 percentage points
Supporting Documents and Materials
Documents
Document Name
IRB Approval - Afghanistan MoPH
Document Type
other
Document Description
The IRB approval by the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health
File
IRB Approval - Afghanistan MoPH

MD5: c2a6a9ff6e339ba97309dd2b056e26f3

SHA1: ec8d0d55ce1f994a08885388f58f2b86a799f684

Uploaded At: June 26, 2020

Document Name
IRB - Modification Approval
Document Type
other
Document Description
The IRB modification approval by Princeton University
File
IRB - Modification Approval

MD5: a91c7cdd17186278359c4b73f4744c28

SHA1: d0184ff4dfc26f918e183c8c650d34af5ad55acc

Uploaded At: June 26, 2020

Document Name
IRB Approval - Princeton University
Document Type
other
Document Description
IRB approval by Princeton University
File
IRB Approval - Princeton University

MD5: 8ec7d87c199cb2aba0f3a3c56f937584

SHA1: a93e2c70bc5aa6a9a5749abfbaadf2e8624916eb

Uploaded At: June 26, 2020

IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health
IRB Approval Date
2020-02-29
IRB Approval Number
A.0220.0166
IRB Name
Princeton University
IRB Approval Date
2020-03-02
IRB Approval Number
12405
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
Pre-Analysis Plan_1July2020

MD5: 79f9b608814a74a5331083816d9ca152

SHA1: abeca08366cf0369553a9a6498b26cb1e2fbe9b0

Uploaded At: June 30, 2020

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