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Peer Effects and Students’ Self-Control

  • Berno Buechel
  • Lydia Mechtenberg
  • Julia Petersen

We conducted a multi-wave field experiment to study the interaction of peer effects and selfcontrol among undergraduate students. We use a behavioral measure of self-control based on whether students achieve study related goals they have set for themselves. We find that both self-control and the number of talented friends increase students’ performance. We then set out to test the theoretical prediction of Battaglini, Bénabou and Tirole (2005) that (only) sufficiently self-controlled individuals profit from interactions with peers. We find that peers with high self-control are more likely to connect to others, have a higher overall number of friends and have a higher number of talented friends. Moreover, positive news about self-controlled behavior of their peers increases students’ own perseverance. Hence, our findings are consistent with the model of Battaglini, Bénabou and Tirole. In addition, we find that female students are more likely to have high self-control, but do not outperform male students. One reason for this is that female students have a lower number of talented friends than their male counterparts, thereby profiting less from positive peer effects.

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Paper provided by Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany in its series SFB 649 Discussion Papers with number SFB649DP2014-024.

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Length: 72 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hum:wpaper:sfb649dp2014-024
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