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Testing for Fatalism in Responses to HIV Risk Information

Last registered on October 27, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Testing for Fatalism in Responses to HIV Risk Information
Initial registration date
October 24, 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 27, 2020, 7:29 AM EDT

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


Primary Investigator

University of Minnesota

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
I study whether Malawians' responses to HIV risks are "fatalistic", meaning that they respond to increased risks by having more risky sex rather than less. I randomly provide information about the true risk of HIV transmission, which is lower than people think it is, to a sample of sexually-active adults in the Zomba district of southern Malawi. This is an area where previous ethnographic and correlational research has documented behavior that appears fatalistic. I then measure how people change their sexual behavior in response to the information treatment, looking for evidence of a U-shaped relationship between risk beliefs and risky sex.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Kerwin, Jason. 2020. "Testing for Fatalism in Responses to HIV Risk Information." AEA RCT Registry. October 27.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Total sex acts in the past week, as measured on a retrospective sex "diary" in which interviewers walk subjects back through the past 7 days to record all sexual activity.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
I draw a random sample of 70 villages from one sub-district of Zomba district, stratified by distance to the closest trading center, and assign half to the treatment group and half to the control group. Within each village I sample 30 sexually-active adults, stratified by gender. I conduct a baseline survey to measure beliefs about HIV risks. At the end of the baseline survey, the treatment group gets an additional survey module presenting information about the true risk of HIV transmission from unprotected sex with an infected partner. 1-4 months after the baseline survey, I return for a followup survey of all respondents to measure changes in risk beliefs and sexual behavior.
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
70 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
35 villages treatment, 35 villages control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
October 25, 2012, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
December 14, 2012, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
70 villages
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1,292 respondents
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
35 villages control, 35 villages treatment
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials