Contact vs. Information: What shapes attitudes towards immigration? Evidence from an experiment in schools

Last registered on November 22, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Contact vs. Information: What shapes attitudes towards immigration? Evidence from an experiment in schools
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008160
Initial registration date
August 27, 2021
Last updated
November 22, 2021, 4:59 PM EST

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
HEC Montréal

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2018-10-10
End date
2019-03-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
We analyze whether (correct) information provision on immigration is more effective than contact in shaping attitudes towards immigration. We collect data from a randomized experiment in 18 middle- and high-school classes in the city of Rome. Half of the classes meet a refugee from Mauritania and read a book about his story, whereas the rest of them attend a lecture on figures and numbers on immigration in Italy and the world.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Florio, Erminia. 2021. "Contact vs. Information: What shapes attitudes towards immigration? Evidence from an experiment in schools." AEA RCT Registry. November 22. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8160-1.1
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
This paper analyzes how information provision shapes attitudes towards immigration against contact (under the broad category of extended contact) in short-length interventions by assessing the effect of a randomized experiment run in 18 middle- and high-school classes in the city of Rome. We randomly select classes to take part either in a two-hour session on the numbers and the figures on immigration in Italy and the world (information treatment) or on a two-hour meeting with the same political refugee from Mauritania (contact treatment).
Intervention Start Date
2019-01-07
Intervention End Date
2019-03-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary outcomes are the changes in three thematic indices which have been constructed from answers to the baseline and endline surveys:
- Information on the immigration phenomenon (statistical, economic and legal aspects of migration in Italy and the world)
- Feelings associated to immigrants
- Attitudes towards immigration (perceived number of migrants in Italy, characteristics for being considered "Italian", policy preferences towards irregular migrants, interest in the topic)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We invited 11 middle-school classes and 11 high-school classes to participate to the experiment. To guarantee comparability across classes, we include only last year's middle-school classes and up to third-year high-school classes in the experimental sample (13-17 years). We randomized these classes over the order of the two interventions, namely half of them attended the information session on numbers and figures on immigration and the rest of them read the book and met the political refugee. Overall, we included nine classes (for a total of 370 students) in the information treatment and nine classes (for a total of 334 students) in the contact treatment group. Unfortunately, there is no pure control group, so we can only estimate the differential impact of one intervention over the other. All the experimental classes answered the questionnaire at the baseline and after the intervention. We use the change in answers between the endline and the baseline questionnaires to evaluate the differential effect of the two treatments in shaping students' attitudes towards immigration.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Class.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
22 Classes
Sample size: planned number of observations
704 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
11 classes both treatments
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
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?
Yes

Program Files

Program Files
Yes
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Abstract
We analyze whether (correct) information provision on immigration is more effective than contact in shaping attitudes towards immigration. We collect data from a randomized experiment in 18 middle- and high-school classes in the city of Rome. Half of the classes meet a refugee from Mauritania and read a book about his story, whereas the rest of them attend a lecture on figures and numbers on immigration in Italy and the world. On average, students develop better attitudes towards immigration (especially in the case of policy preferences and the perceived number of immigrants in their country) and somewhat improve their feelings associated with immigrants after the information treatment more than they do after the contact treatment. Also, students having received the information treatment strongly adjust their knowledge on immigration. However, students’ individual characteristics (sex and, to a lesser extent, age) affect treatments’ relative effectiveness.
Citation
Florio, Erminia. "Contact vs. Information: What shapes attitudes towards immigration? Evidence from an experiment in schools." Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (2022). Vol. 96: 101790.

Reports & Other Materials