I Promise to Work Hard: The Impact of Written Pledge on Student Performance

Last registered on September 09, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

I Promise to Work Hard: The Impact of Written Pledge on Student Performance
Initial registration date
September 06, 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
September 09, 2021, 7:01 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Management Development Institute Gurgaon

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Florida Gulf Coast University
PI Affiliation
Florida Gulf Coast University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Students enter each course with an expectation about their academic performance, which is often an overestimation of their actual performance. Factors often attributed to such mismatch between the expected and actual performance are students' ex-ante overconfidence, incomplete and inaccurate information, inability to distinguish between expectations and aspirations, and other behavioral biases like present biasness, status-quo or limited attention. Using a field experiment, this paper studies the effectiveness of a non-binding pledge at mitigating these behavioral biases and its effect on students' effort, persistence and performance in the course. We also study whether varying social distance between the pledger and the pledgee affects the outcome of our intervention.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Arora, Puneet, Nicholas Wright and Jesse Wright. 2021. "I Promise to Work Hard: The Impact of Written Pledge on Student Performance." AEA RCT Registry. September 09. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8173-1.0
Experimental Details


Our intervention is a non-binding pledge in which students promise to study for x hours/week for the course and attain y grade in the course. x and y are students' self-reported study hours and target grades, respectively.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Attendance, Homework completion and grades, Midterm grades, Endterm grades, Drop-outs
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Using a field experiment, we randomly expose students to the pledge where they promise the pledgee to exert their self-reported amount of efforts to accomplish their expected grade, and examine whether it affects their effort, persistence and performance in the course. We also test whether varying social distance between the pledger and the pledgee causes differential impact of the pledge using an encouragement design, encouraging a portion of the treatment group to share their pledge with their student advisor or one of their friends.
Experimental Design Details
Information attained through the baseline survey will help us check balance between the treatment and control group students' pre-existing attributes.

We will study the effect of the non-binding pledge on students' mid-term grades, final exam grades, overall course grades and pass rate. Additionally, using their pre-existing differences, we will also study whether the pledge has heterogeneous effect across different groups: student gender, GPA - below and above median, GPA - top, middle and bottom terciles, household income - below and above 60K and above, and course grade expectations - high or low.
Randomization Method
Randomization done by Qualtrics' own randomization algorithm
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
10-15 classrooms
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
700 treated group students, 700 control group students
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Florida Gulf Coast University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials