Cancelled: Conformity or Silence?

Last registered on November 10, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Cancelled: Conformity or Silence?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007905
Initial registration date
July 01, 2021
Last updated
November 10, 2021, 12:28 PM EST

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University College Dublin

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Collegio Carlo Alberto

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2021-08-19
End date
2021-08-26
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
Social norms, social image concerns, and social stigma are all factors which can shape the public expression of opinion. With increased political polarization and the rise of social media, many prominent voices have recently argued that some of these social norms have become too strict and that fear of social backlash has led to a stifling of freedom of expression. We study how perceived social pressure affects the public expression of opinion. How sensitive are individuals to current concerns of social backlash? To what extent may public views differ from private opinion? Do these dynamics vary depending on individual characteristics like political affiliation or social media use? To investigate these questions, we first outline a simple model that formalizes these ideas and helps to frame our study. We highlight how social pressure can affect public opinion either through a change in publicly stated views towards a norm (conformity) or by inducing self-censorship (silence). We then propose to conduct an online survey experiment that allows us to disentangle these two effects and to better understand these social dynamics in the context of two current debates: Gender and LGBTQ issues, and Race.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Morales, Juan S. and Margaret Samahita. 2021. "Cancelled: Conformity or Silence?." AEA RCT Registry. November 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7905-1.8000000000000007
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Our intervention is priming participants with a short text about "cancel culture" which includes two examples of individuals who have experienced negative backlash on social media as a result of their posts.
Intervention Start Date
2021-08-19
Intervention End Date
2021-08-26

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
First, we elicit participants' stated opinion on two controversial statements about gender and race (1-7 strongly disagree - strongly agree). Second, we elicit participants' willingness to publish their stated opinion on a public social media site anonymously and with their name (willing/unwilling). For a randomly selected topic, we also elicit participants' willingness to pay for the publication (how many lottery tickets participant is willing to give up/accept).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Participants are randomised into 1 of 5 treatments:
T1: prime text, elicitation of stated opinion, control text, elicitation of willingness to publish
T2: control text, elicitation of stated opinion, primetext, elicitation of willingness to publish
T3: control text, elicitation of stated opinion, control text, elicitation of willingness to publish
T4: prime text, elicitation of stated opinion AND elicitation of willingness to publish
T5: control text, elicitation of stated opinion AND elicitation of willingness to publish
Experimental Design Details
See pre-analysis plan.
Randomization Method
Randomisation is done on the Qualtrics program.
Randomization Unit
Individuals are randomised into 1 of the 5 treatments. We allocate 27.5% of participants to each of T1-2, and 15% to each of T3-5. This enables us to compare behavior when primed at the start vs later with greater power.

Individuals are also randomised into either the Gender or Race topic. While we show both statements to elicit stated opinion and willingness to publish, we only ask one of them for the questions about willingness to pay for publication and perceived norm.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
900 individuals (300 each of self-reported Republicans, Democrats and Independents)
Sample size: planned number of observations
900 individuals (300 each of self-reported Republicans, Democrats and Independents)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
27.5% in T1-2, 15% in T3-5
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University College Dublin
IRB Approval Date
2021-06-15
IRB Approval Number
HS-E-21-43-Samahita
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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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