x

We are happy to announce that all trial registrations will now be issued DOIs (digital object identifiers). For more information, see here.
Poverty and Cognitive Function
Last registered on August 21, 2015

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Poverty and Cognitive Function
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000796
Initial registration date
August 10, 2015
Last updated
August 21, 2015 9:24 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Oxford
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Oxford
PI Affiliation
Princeton University
PI Affiliation
Princeton University
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2015-08-10
End date
2015-08-11
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This document describes the analysis plan for a randomized experiment examining the psychological effects of poverty on cognitive function. We will recruit 2000 respondents from Amazon Mechanical Turk and expose our treatment group to a prime that triggers feelings of poverty (Mani et al., 2013). Then, participants complete ten Raven progressive matrices and 75 items of a Stroop task. The design of the study is a replication of the study by (Mani et al., 2013). This plan outlines the design of the experiments, the outcomes of interest, the econometric approach and the dimensions of heterogeneity we intend to explore.







External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Abraham, Justin et al. 2015. "Poverty and Cognitive Function." AEA RCT Registry. August 21. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.796-4.0.
Former Citation
Abraham, Justin et al. 2015. "Poverty and Cognitive Function." AEA RCT Registry. August 21. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/796/history/5083.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We have adapted the poverty primes by Mani et al. (2013) to the MTurk environment. As in Mani et al. (2013), we present our respondents hypothetical scenarios, each of which describes a financial problem. We randomly assign our respondents to either a hard or an easy financial scenario.

In the first financial scenario they need to explain how they would deal with an income decrease of 20% (5%) in the hard (easy) financial scenario. We then ask them a variety of questions on whether this income shock would substantially affect their situation and what kind of sacrifices they would need to make. In the second scenario people explain how they would deal with a situation in which they need to come up with an amount of money: In the hard (easy) financial scenario respondents are asked how they would come up with $3000 ($150) in a short notice. The order with which these financial scenarios is presented is randomized. Respondents write down how they might deal with the financial scenarios. The aim of exposure to these scenarios is to trigger feelings of poverty.

We have made two main changes to the primes used by Mani et al. (2013): first, we slightly increased the amounts for the hard financial scenarios. Second, we removed two financial scenarios because they did not seem well-suited for the MTurk population. We have conducted a pilot study with a sample of 350 participants on August 1st in which we document that our two primes successfully affect financial worries. In particular, poorer individuals from our sample are quite strongly affected by our treatment: They display substantially stronger financial worries and lower levels of satisfaction with income. The primes are further explained in Appendix A. Moreover, at the very end of the document we attach the exact experimental instructions.
Intervention Start Date
2015-08-10
Intervention End Date
2015-08-11
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
- Stroop task: Our participants will be presented with a series of color words (blue, yellow, green, red). These words will appear in different colors, sometimes matching the word (e.g., the word blue, written in blue), and sometimes not matching the word (e.g., the word blue, written in yellow). The respondent's task is to indicate, as quickly and accurately as possible, the color in which the word is written, whether or not that matches the word itself. They are supposed to click the letter on the keyboard that matches the first letter of the color of the word. We incentivize the responses to this task by giving 1 cent for each correct answer, but reducing participants payoffs by 2 cents per 10 seconds it takes them to complete all items in the Stroop task and their payoff from this task cannot go negative. Respondents must complete 75 items without any time limits. In this task, we measure the number of correct answers and reaction time. We are interested in the number of correct responses and the response time to the incongruent items (where meaning of word and color do not match).

- Raven Progressive Matrices: This task measures fluid intelligence. Each trial consists of a pattern, with part of the pattern missing. Respondents are asked to choose the correct figure, from a set of 8 candidate figures, which best completes the overall pattern. We incentivize the responses to this task by giving five cents for each correct answer. Respondents must complete ten questions without any time limits. In this task, we measure the number of correct answers and reaction time. We have chosen Raven matrices that were neither too easy nor too hard based on a Pilot of 50 respondents from MTurk on August 4th.

- Financial Worries: This 4-item questionnaire provides an additional manipulation check for our poverty primes. We ask respondents to self-report on a Likert scale how worried they are about their financial situation.

- Satisfaction with income

- MacArthur Socioeconomic Ladder

Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We have adapted the poverty primes by Mani et al. (2013) to the MTurk environment. As in Mani et al. (2013), we present our respondents hypothetical scenarios, each of which describes a financial problem. We randomly assign our respondents to either a hard or an easy financial scenario.

In the first financial scenario they need to explain how they would deal with an income decrease of 20% (5%) in the hard (easy) financial scenario. We then ask them a variety of questions on whether this income shock would substantially affect their situation and what kind of sacrifices they would need to make. In the second scenario people explain how they would deal with a situation in which they need to come up with an amount of money: In the hard (easy) financial scenario respondents are asked how they would come up with $3000 ($150) in a short notice. The order with which these financial scenarios is presented is randomized. Respondents write down how they might deal with the financial scenarios. The aim of exposure to these scenarios is to trigger feelings of poverty.

We have made two main changes to the primes used by Mani et al. (2013): first, we increased the amounts for the hard financial scenarios. Second, we removed two financial scenarios because they did not seem well-suited for the MTurk population. We have conducted a pilot study with a sample of 350 participants on August 1st in which we document that our two primes successfully affect financial worries. In particular, poorer individuals from our sample are quite strongly affected by our treatment: They display substantially stronger financial worries and lower levels of satisfaction with income.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is done using a computer.
Randomization Unit
Individual.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
2000 respondents on Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Sample size: planned number of observations
2000 respondents on Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1000 treatment individuals;
1000 control individuals.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The chosen sample size of 2000 participants for the experiment ensures that we can detect an effect size of about 0.125 at a significance level of 0.05 with a power of about 0.8. Given that the effect sizes reported by Mani et al. (2013) are between 0.8 of a standard deviation and 1 standard deviation, we can be confident that our sample is sufficiently large to provide us with sufficient statistical power to detect effects.
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
Princeton Institutional Review Boeard
IRB Approval Date
2015-07-23
IRB Approval Number
6800
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
Poverty and Cognitive Function PAP

MD5: 3bf602ea36f4f86ac1f41160fcbb6753

SHA1: 4f5926d3b824f1174b74815c218388aa24951366

Uploaded At: August 12, 2015

Poverty and Cognitive Function Revised

MD5: 30856ab06a5b7e9305d9ff4f72cb649a

SHA1: 615defa29962c94e1dc7b3f904da966f5bf69b3c

Uploaded At: August 13, 2015

Poverty and Cognitive Function Revised 2

MD5: e67277d199d6ec8fcd012e5945eeaafe

SHA1: ec8db1c299f90a649844767aed7bce1c49cef65e

Uploaded At: August 21, 2015

Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers