Motivated Beliefs in Higher Education

Last registered on October 13, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Motivated Beliefs in Higher Education
Initial registration date
October 09, 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
October 13, 2020, 9:18 AM EDT

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


Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Warwick

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We plan to study whether students how motivated beliefs about their academic ability and if so whether that motivated reasoning influences academic outcomes. To do so, we plan to elicit beliefs about relative rank on a midterm in introductory economics courses at a large public university. We then plan to administer a price-list questionnaire to assess how much students would be willing to pay to learn their actual rank, or if they would prefer to receive money to not learn their rank. We will then randomly assign students the true information about their rank depending on their questions to the price list question. We will then study how preferences for information about ability interacts with how students process information they receive as well as academic outcomes in the courses under study.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Castegnetti, Alessandro and Derek Rury. 2020. "Motivated Beliefs in Higher Education." AEA RCT Registry. October 13.
Experimental Details


We plan to provide students with information about their relative performance rank on a course midterm.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We will have three sets of outcomes:

1) The first will be how students respond to the price-list question assessing student preferences for information about their tank
2) The second will be posterior beliefs about how likely students think it is that they are in the top half of the ability distribution
3) The third will be academic outcomes, such as HW, exam and course performance as well as time spent studying.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We primarily are interested in documented the existence of motivated reasoning in students. The first two outcomes allow us to do this. We are also interested to see how these motivated beliefs influence traditional academic outcomes.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We will ask students to submit answers to a price list question asking how much they would be willing to pay/accept to know/not know their rank on a course midterm. We then plan to randomly select an entry to the price list which we will use to determine eligibility to be randomize to receive information on actual relative rank.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
We plan to randomize students into treatment and control groups using the randomizer function in the qualtrics survey software.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Around 1,000 students.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Around 1,000.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Around 1,000.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
UC Davis
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials