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Networks and Workouts: Treatment Size and Status Specific Peer Effects in a Randomized Field Experiment

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  • Philip S. Babcock
  • John L. Hartman

Abstract

This paper estimates treatment size and status specific peer effects that are not detected by widely-used approaches to the estimation of spillovers. In a field experiment using university students, we find that subjects who have been incentivized to exercise increase gym usage more if they have more treated friends. However, control subjects are not influenced by their peers. Findings demonstrate that fraction treated has a large influence on outcomes in this environment, and spillovers vary greatly by treatment status. Results highlight subtle effects of randomization and document a low-cost method for improving the generalizability of controlled interventions in networked environments.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip S. Babcock & John L. Hartman, 2010. "Networks and Workouts: Treatment Size and Status Specific Peer Effects in a Randomized Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 16581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16581
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    1. Peter Kuhn & Peter Kooreman & Adriaan Soetevent & Arie Kapteyn, 2011. "The Effects of Lottery Prizes on Winners and Their Neighbors: Evidence from the Dutch Postcode Lottery," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2226-2247, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Manuela Angelucci & Silvia Prina & Heather Royer & Anya Samek, 2015. "When Incentives Backfire: Spillover Effects in Food Choice," NBER Working Papers 21481, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hahn, Youjin & Islam, Asadul & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2015. "Network Structure and Education Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Bangladesh," IZA Discussion Papers 8872, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Goulão Catarina & Thibault Emmanuel, 2013. "Physical Activity and Policy Recommendations: A Social Multiplier Approach," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(2), pages 577-612, November.
    4. Cabane Charlotte & Lechner Michael, 2015. "Physical Activity of Adults: A Survey of Correlates, Determinants, and Effects," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 235(4-5), pages 376-402, August.
    5. Sarah Baird & J. Aislinn Bohren & Craig McIntosh & Berk Ozler, 2014. "Designing Experiments to Measure Spillover Effects," PIER Working Paper Archive 14-006, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    6. Magnan, Nicholas & Spielman, David J. & Lybbert, Travis J. & Gulati, Kajal, 2015. "Leveling with friends: Social networks and Indian farmers' demand for a technology with heterogeneous benefits," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 223-251.
    7. Patrizia Lattarulo & Marco Mariani & Laura Razzolini, 2017. "Nudging museums attendance: a field experiment with high school teens," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 41(3), pages 259-277, August.
    8. Marco Fabbri & Paolo Nicola Barbieri & Maria Bigoni, 2019. "Ride Your Luck! A Field Experiment on Lottery-Based Incentives for Compliance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(9), pages 4336-4348, September.
    9. Mariana Carrera & Heather Royer & Mark Stehr & Justin Sydnor, 2020. "The Structure of Health Incentives: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(5), pages 1890-1908, May.
    10. Julie Le Gallo & Yannick L'Horty & Pascale Petit, 2014. "Does subsidising young people to learn to drive promote social inclusion? Evidence from a large controlled experiment in France," TEPP Working Paper 2014-15, TEPP.
    11. Le Gallo, Julie & L'Horty, Yannick & Petit, Pascale, 2017. "Does enhanced mobility of young people improve employment and housing outcomes? Evidence from a large and controlled experiment in France," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 1-14.
    12. Arun Advani & Bansi Malde, 2018. "Credibly Identifying Social Effects: Accounting For Network Formation And Measurement Error," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(4), pages 1016-1044, September.
    13. Magnan, Nicholas & Spielman, David J. & Gulati, Kajal & Lybbert, Travis J., 2015. "Information networks among women and men and the demand for an agricultural technology in India:," IFPRI discussion papers 1411, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    14. Kiessling, Lukas & Radbruch, Jonas & Schaube, Sebastian, 2018. "The Impact of Self-Selection on Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 11365, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Vincent Boucher & Bernard Fortin, 2015. "Some Challenges in the Empirics of the Effects of Networks," Cahiers de recherche 1504, CIRPEE.
    16. Nicholas Magnan & David J Spielman & Travis J. Lybbert & Kajal Gulati, 2013. "Leveling with Friends: Social Networks and Indian Farmers’ Demand for Agricultural Custom Hire Services," Working Papers id:5591, eSocialSciences.
    17. Yann Algan & Quoc-Anh Do & Nicolò Dalvit & Alexis Le Chapelain & Yves Zenou, 2015. "How Social Networks Shape Our Beliefs: A Natural Experiment among Future French Politicians," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/78vacv4udu9, Sciences Po.
    18. Carrera, Mariana & Royer, Heather & Stehr, Mark & Sydnor, Justin, 2018. "Can financial incentives help people trying to establish new habits? Experimental evidence with new gym members," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 202-214.
    19. Aguinaga, Paulina & Cassar, Alessandra & Graham, Jennifer & Skora, Lauren & Wydick, Bruce, 2019. "Raising achievement among microentrepreneurs: An experimental test of goals, incentives, and support groups in Medellin, Colombia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 79-97.
    20. Ryota Nakamura & Marc Suhrcke & Daniel John Zizzo, 2017. "A triple test for behavioral economics models and public health policy," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 83(4), pages 513-533, December.
    21. Downward, Paul & Rasciute, Simona, 2016. "‘No man is an island entire of itself.’ The hidden effect of peers on physical activity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 149-156.
    22. Youjin Hahn & Asadul Islam & Eleonora Patacchini & Yves Zenou, 2015. "Teams, Organization and Education Outcomes: Evidence from a field experiment in Bangladesh," Monash Economics Working Papers 35-15, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    23. Allais, Olivier & Bazoche, Pascale & Teyssier, Sabrina, 2017. "Getting more people on the stairs: The impact of point-of-decision prompts," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 192(C), pages 18-27.
    24. Sarah Baird & Aislinn Bohren & Craig McIntosh & Berk Ozler, 2017. "Optimal Design of Experiments in the Presence of Interference*, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 16-025, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 30 Nov 2017.
    25. Magnan, Nicholas & Spielman, David J. & Gulati, Kajal, 2013. "Female social networks and learning about a new technology in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150688, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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