Sources of Discrimination - The Effect of Information

Last registered on December 27, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Sources of Discrimination - The Effect of Information
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008609
Initial registration date
November 23, 2021
Last updated
December 27, 2021, 9:48 AM EST

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
JGU Mainz

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2021-12-05
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
While the existence of discrimination has long been established, little is known about the actual sources of discrimination. Researchers typically categorize discrimination as either taste-based or belief-based discrimination based on either accurate or inaccurate beliefs. While any kind of discrimination can have fatal consequences for the discriminated, a precise identification of the source of discrimination has important implications for effective policy interventions. I suggest a careful analysis of the information acquisition and processing stage that precedes potentially discriminatory decisions. In particular, imitating a hiring decision in an online experiment, I analyze the effect of biased information acquisition and processing on discriminatory behavior and investigate whether people selectively attend and adhere to different kinds of information.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Eyting, Markus. 2021. "Sources of Discrimination - The Effect of Information." AEA RCT Registry. December 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8609-4.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2021-12-05
Intervention End Date
2021-12-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
"Discrimination", "information acquisition" and "information processing"
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
"Discrimination": I measure the frequencies with which workers of different subgroups are 'hired' and to what extent hiring is consistent with the seen signals in each treatment.
"Information acquisition": I measure how many signals employers gather in each treatment and whether or not specific signal requests depend on the interaction of the treatment group and the previous signal(s).
"Information processing": I measure to what extent hiring decisions are consistent with previously seen information signals between treatments.

I analyze whether results differ when looking at decisions between blacks and whites vs. between whites and hispanics vs. between asians vs. hispanics. This means, I look at whether discrimination within minority groups (asians vs. hispanics) is different than discrimination between a majority and a minority group (whites vs. blacks; whites vs. hispanics).

(I check and account for learning and fatigue effects by dropping observations in which decision times significantly deviate from the median.)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Decision times
Beliefs
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
"Decision times": I measure the time taken to make a hiring decision.
"Beliefs": I measure the subjective probabilities regarding the scores of particular worker subgroups (blacks, whites, hispanics, asians) before and after an aggregate information update

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
I set up a hiring situation in which 'employers' are repeatedly asked to select one of two potential 'workers'.

In a 5X2 design, employers are randomly allocated into one of four information groups and within each information group into either the treatment groups "neutral" and "real". In group 'neutral' any information about whether or not the workers belong to a minority group is hidden, while in the 'real' group, the ethnicity of each worker is displayed.

The information groups:
"Oneplusinfo": In each hiring decision, employers first receive a randomly drawn piece of information about the two workers. They may then choose to gather additional information signals before hiring one of the two workers.
"Oneinfoonly": In each hiring decision, employers first receive a randomly drawn piece of information about the two workers. They do not have the opportunity to gather additional information signals before hiring one of the two workers.
"Allinfo": In each hiring decision, employers receive several pieces of information about the two workers. They do not have the opportunity to gather additional information signals before hiring one of the two workers.
"Noinfo": In each hiring decision, employers do not receive any pieces of information about the two workers.
"Signals": In each hiring decision, employers receive the name of the better of the two workers. However, this information comes from either a True News or a Fake News source. The True News source always tells the truth, whereas the Fake News source never tells the truth. For each decisions, employers can request up to 9 additional signals, each from either the True News or the Fake News source. Employers do not know from which source a message is delivered.

Analyses are mainly within information groups, and between treatment groups.
Experimental Design Details
The pool of workers has been set up via an online survey in which US students completed an assessment test consisting of a real effort task, a dictator game and a logic/math quiz.

Previous to the hiring stage, employers in both groups are provided with the true group statistics about the average productivity of different
subgroups of workers (in order to correct and align prior beliefs between groups real and neutral). All employers are asked to state their beliefs about the subgroups' scores before and after having seen the true group statistics.

In the "neutral" group any information about whether or not the worker belongs to a minority group is hidden. Instead, workers are given abstract group memberships. In the "real" group, employers are presented with the races of the two workers.

In both groups, employers are then repeatedly presented with two profiles of workers (subjects from the worker pool) and asked to 'hire' one of them. Employers are paid a fixed fee if they hired the worker who has received the higher score in a randomly drawn decision. Depending on the information group, employers are either provided with (1) one initial random piece of information about the two workers and (e.g. their current college GPA) and have the opportunity to gather more information signals about the two workers, (2) one initial random piece of information about the two workers and (e.g. their current college GPA) and have no opportunity to gather more information signals about the two workers, (3) several initial pieces of information about the two workers, (4) no additional pieces of information about the two workers or (5) true or fake news about who the better worker is.

Randomization Method
Randomization into one of the 10 (5 X 2) groups is done by a computer
Randomization Unit
individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
~2500 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
~ 50,000 hiring decisions
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
~ 400 individuals in "Allinfo" and "Oneinfo" groups, ~ 600 individuals in "Oneplusinfo" and "Noinfo" groups, ~ 500 in "Signals" group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Gemeinsame Ethikkommission Wirtschaftswissenschaften der Goethe-Universit├Ąt Frankfurt und der Johannes Gutenberg-Universit├Ąt Mainz
IRB Approval Date
2021-03-23
IRB Approval Number
N/A

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