Experimental Design Details
The main survey begins by eliciting respondents’ knowledge about the Federal Reserve, and by eliciting their prior expectations about future inflation and unemployment. Then, each respondent is randomly allocated to one of 7 groups (with equal probability). The first group is a control group that is not shown any information about Fed forecasts (just some generic Fed-related information). The remaining groups are shown either median forecasts from the most recent FOMC Survey of Economic Projections about inflation (groups 2-4) or unemployment (groups 5-7), along with a picture of an FOMC member that is a white male (groups 2 and 5), a white female (groups 3 and 6), or an African-American male (groups 4 and 7). All respondents are then asked about their trust in the Fed (both in terms of whether they trust the Fed to adequately manage inflation and unemployment, and to ensure the economic well-being of all Americans), and their expectations about future inflation and unemployment are re-elicited. We also elicit various demographic characteristics.
The main hypotheses we’ll test is whether the same forecast information has differential effects on respondents’ beliefs and trust in the Fed depending on whether minority representation on the FOMC (either female or black) is made salient, and in particular whether these effects differ depending on respondents’ own group membership (gender and race).
In the follow-up survey, we again elicit respondent expectations about inflation and unemployment, as well as trust in the Fed, to test whether effects found in the main survey (if any) persist over time. We will further examine whether the treatment in the main survey affected whether respondents followed Fed news over the intervening month, and whether they appear more informed about the Fed. Finally, we randomize respondents into four groups (orthogonal to treatment groups from the main survey). In group 1 and 2, respondents are asked whether they would prefer to read a short article that features a statement about the future of the U.S. economy from a high-ranked official from (i) the Congressional Budget Office, or (ii) the Federal Reserve. In groups 3 and 4, respondents are asked the same question, but with policy maker names added, where in group 3 the Fed policy maker is female, and in group 4 the Fed policy maker is male. The choice in groups 1 and 2 is used to test whether treatment assignment from the main survey affects the likelihood that a respondent selects to read about the Fed. Choices in groups 3 and 4 are instead used to directly test whether female respondents become more likely to read about the Fed when the Fed policy maker is female rather than male. Among those in groups 1 and 2 who choose the Fed article, those in group 1 (2) are shown the article citing the female (male) Fed representative, to test whether this affects their evaluation of the article (differentially depending on respondent characteristics).