Giving social pressure: Costs, motives, and effects

Last registered on October 04, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Giving social pressure: Costs, motives, and effects
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006364
Initial registration date
August 25, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
August 26, 2020, 11:47 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
October 04, 2020, 8:06 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
UC Berkeley

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2020-09-08
End date
2020-11-03
Secondary IDs
Abstract
While recent studies have found that social pressure can induce people to comply with various norms, little is known about how norms are organically communicated and enforced in everyday life. Anecdotally, when we see someone violate a norm, we are often hesitant to do anything in response. The project measures the incentivized willingness to pay to (not) give social pressure, in the context of college students emailing unregistered peers to register to vote for the 2020 U.S. General Election. Furthermore, it decomposes this cost into Self- (e.g., fear of confrontation) and Other-regarding (e.g., altruism) sources, and examines whether pressuring others increases their chances of registering. These findings are crucial to understand the true welfare costs and effectiveness of policies that aim to use social norms.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Kim, Woojin. 2020. "Giving social pressure: Costs, motives, and effects." AEA RCT Registry. October 04. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6364
Sponsors & Partners

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-09-08
Intervention End Date
2020-11-03

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
For participants sending email messages:
- Willingness to pay to (not) send the message

For participants receiving email messages:
- Voter registration rate
- Voter turnout rate
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Willingness to pay to (not) send the message will be incentivized using a standard multiple price list mechanism.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
For participants sending email messages:
- Number of words edited from template message

For participants receiving email messages:
- Change in predicted current and final registration rate on their campuses
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In this study, participants send email messages to their unregistered peers pressuring them to register to vote for the upcoming 2020 U.S. General Election. The experiment elicits the incentivized willingness to pay to (not) send these social pressure messages.
Experimental Design Details
This study will be conducted online from September 8 to October 19 (the deadline in California to register to vote for the 2020 U.S. General Election). Students in select University of California campuses will be invited to participate through behavioral science labs or email lists. There will be several rounds of the experiment. In each round, participants will take two surveys within 10 days: the Initial Survey and the Follow-up Survey. There are two types of participants: "Registrants" are those who have already registered to vote when they begin the study, and "Non-registrants" are those who have not.

Initial Survey

The Initial Survey screens for eligibility to vote in California and to register online, and collects demographic information. All participants report their incentivized beliefs on their campus’s voter registration rate, which measures their perception of the norm. The Non-registrants then provide their willingness to pay (WTP) to (not) share their registration status with other participants. They are informed that if their status is shared, they may also receive an email from another participant about the election. To mitigate experimenter demand effects, the topic of the email (voter registration) is not mentioned. Their WTP responses, which are incentive-compatible under a standard multiple price list mechanism, capture the welfare cost of revealing to others that they have not registered to vote (a loss in social recognition). After the Initial Survey, selected Non-registrants are randomly matched to Registrants.

Follow-up Survey: Registrants

The Follow-up Survey is first sent to Registrants, who are shown the names and registration statuses of three other participants. They are first asked to characterize their relationship with each of the participants as Strangers, Acquaintances, Friends, or Close friends. The Registrants are told they may be randomly selected to email one of the three potential recipients. The purpose of the email will randomly differ between Registrants and can be one of two types. The “treatment” email pressures the recipient to register to vote (“Pressure Message”). The “control” email informs the recipient about legislative districts in California (“Info Message”).Registrants assigned the Pressure Message will only see Non-registrants as potential recipients. If the proportion of Registrants in the sample is greater than 75%, then Registrants assigned the Info Message may see a mix of Registrants and Non-registrants as potential recipients. Otherwise, they will only see Non-registrants as potential recipients. Registrants are shown a template of whichever message they were assigned, and are informed that if they are selected to send the message, they can edit it within general guidelines.

Registrants are also told that if they are selected to send the message, they will have to send it either directly or anonymously. A “Direct Message” must be sent by the Registrant from their own email account, while an “Anonymous Message” will be sent by the research team without mentioning the Registrant's name. For each of the three potential recipients, Registrants are shown whether they would have to send a Direct or Anonymous Message if they are selected to message that recipient. To summarize, the Pressure vs. Info Message condition varies between Registrants, while the Direct vs. Anonymous Message condition varies within Registrant.

For each of the three potential recipients, Registrants are asked on a 7-point Agree/Disagree Likert scale whether the recipient would like to receive a message from them. Then, they are asked the chances that the recipient registers to vote by the election (or for the Info Message condition, the chances that the recipient knows who their local representatives are) first if they do not send the message, and then if they do send the message. For Registrants assigned to the Pressure Message condition, all these beliefs elicitations are incentivized.

Next, the Registrants state their WTP to (not) send the email message to each recipient via a standard multiple price list mechanism that allows the WTP to range from -$7 to $7. For the Registrants who are selected to send the message, they must compose their message on the survey. For Direct Message senders, they must email their message (BCC’ing the research team to validate their complete participation) before finishing the study. For all other Registrants, they must send a confirmation email to the research team before submitting their responses. Figure 2 shows the assignment and interaction of Registrants and Non-registrants.

Follow-up Survey: Non-registrants

After the Registrants have taken the Follow-up Survey, the link is sent to Non-registrants. Non-registrants are asked whether they received an email about the election from another student participant. If they did, they are asked to describe the contents of the email, and then how much they liked/disliked receiving it on a 7-point Likert scale. If they were assigned to receive a Direct Message, they are asked whether the sender was a Stranger, Acquaintance, Friend, or Close Friend, or if they do not remember. Lastly, the Non-registrants may update their guesses on their campus’s registration rate.

Post-election

Non-registrants' registration statuses and turnout in the election are tracked to assess the causal impact of receiving social pressure.
Randomization Method
Randomization is conducted by computer.
Randomization Unit
Randomization is at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1000 participants
Sample size: planned number of observations
1000 participants
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Historically, around 70% of students on these campuses have registered to vote, which would mean 700 registered and 300 unregistered participants in our sample. 25-33% of the registered participants will be assigned to potentially send the control message (informing about local legislative districts), and the rest will be assigned to potentially send the pressure message. To account for attrition on the part of registered senders, slightly more than half of the unregistered participants will be assigned to receive a pressure message about voter registration from another participant.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
If 490 participants are assigned to potentially send the pressure message and the standard deviation in WTP to send a message is $4 (which would be the case if WTP was uniformly random over -$7 to $7), then the minimum detectable cost/value of pressuring with power 0.8 is around $0.55. If the other 210 registered participants are assigned to potentially send the control message, then the difference in WTP between the pressure and control messages is around $0.9. (These are conservative estimates of power since it assumes a high standard deviation and ignores that each registered participant gives three WTP responses, not just one.) The MDE in the voter registration rate among the messaged participants is around 12 pp. if 10% of the 150 unmessaged participants register, and 16 pp. if 50% do. Given such high MDEs, I do not expect to find a significant effect of a message.
Supporting Documents and Materials

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
UC Berkeley Committee for Protection of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2020-09-08
IRB Approval Number
2020-03-13093
Analysis Plan

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information

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