Compliance with Covid-19 prevention measures: a behavioural economics approach

Last registered on November 11, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Compliance with Covid-19 prevention measures: a behavioural economics approach
Initial registration date
March 02, 2021

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
March 02, 2021, 6:38 AM EST

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

Last updated
November 11, 2021, 12:17 AM EST

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



Primary Investigator

University of Pretoria

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Pretoria

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This project considers the factors influencing the willingness of South African citizens to comply with the preventive measures (wearing masks, social distancing, etc.) and lockdown regulations implemented to fight the spread of Covid-19. The point of departure is that these factors are determined by personal characteristics: risk preferences, impatience and self-control, and social preferences (altruism, generosity and willingness to cooperate). The primary goal of the project is to identify the effect of these behavioural dimensions on compliance. Understanding these effects is an essential first step in designing better-targeted measures during and after the crisis, and in optimising the impact communications have on behaviour to prevent the spread of the virus.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Nicholls, Nicky and Eleni Yitbarek. 2021. "Compliance with Covid-19 prevention measures: a behavioural economics approach ." AEA RCT Registry. November 11.
Experimental Details


Online questionnaires will be sent to a representative sample of South Africans. Respondents will answer a range of survey questions detailing their beliefs and behaviour around the pandemic. Respondents will also participate in 4 incentivised economic games to investigate their preferences.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We are interested in reported behaviour, specifically compliance with lockdown regulations; and whether differences in preferences (altruism, risk and time preferences, cooperation) predict this behaviour. We are also interested in how beliefs about others' behaviour predict own behaviour.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Behaviour will be assessed from self-reports in survey questions, as will beliefs about others' behaviour. Altruism, risk and time preferences and willingness to cooperate/contribute to a public good are measured from decisions in economic games/experiments. A discrete choice experiment will also be used to look at the lockdown regulations with which people are more/less willing to comply.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Vaccine adoption
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We will use a discrete choice experiment to look at the impact of different characteristics of vaccines (efficacy, side effects, cost) will impact willingness to be vaccinated.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
1500 South Africans will complete a survey, including discrete choice experiments, incentivised economics games and survey questions.
Experimental Design Details
~1500 participants will complete an online questionnaire. Questions include details of their own compliance with lockdown measures and their beliefs about the compliance of others (both past, present and planned future compliance). We use incentivised economics games (dictator game, public goods game and risk and time preference tasks) to assess preferences for altruism, cooperation and risk and time. We also include 2 discrete choice tasks, one to consider willingness to comply with different lockdown measures; and the second to investigate willingness to be vaccinated.
The questionnaire will be administed by an online consumer panel company in South Africa.
Randomization Method
Participants are randomly paid for one of the experimental tasks completed. The randomisaation will be done using computer software.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1500 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
1500 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
500 per choice set for discrete choice experiment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Pretoria Economic and Management Sciences Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
July 31, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
July 31, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials