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Seeking Risk or Answering Smart? Experimental Evidence on Framing Effects in Elementary Schools

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  • Wagner, Valentin

Abstract

Losses are painful but how painful are negative outcomes? This paper presents results of a field experiment among 1377 elementary pupils on the effectiveness of loss framing and avoiding negative outcomes on pupils test performance. I compare answers of pupils in a multiple-choice test in math who are endowed with 0 points and earning points is framed as a gain (Control Group) to pupils who are endowed with the maximum number of points but earning points is framed as a loss (Loss Treatment). In a second treatment arm (Negative Treatment) earning points is again framed as a gain but pupils are endowed with a negative amount of points. However, pupils in this treatment could achieve a positive outcome by earning at least half of the points. I find that, on average, the number of correctly solved questions increases significantly in both treatments (Loss and Negative). The multiple-choice testing format allows to identify the underlying channels of improvements. While pupils in the Loss Treatment significantly seem to seek more risk---answer more multiple-choice questions---pupils in the Negative Treatment significantly answer more accurately---increase the share of correctly answered questions. Nevertheless, the Negative Treatment is preferable to the Loss Treatment as both treatments indeed significantly increase performance of high-ability pupils but low-ability pupils significantly perform worse under a loss frame.

Suggested Citation

  • Wagner, Valentin, 2016. "Seeking Risk or Answering Smart? Experimental Evidence on Framing Effects in Elementary Schools," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145678, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc16:145678
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    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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