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Do people really want to be informed? Ex-ante evaluations of information-campaign effectiveness

Abstract

We develop a method to assess population knowledge about any given topic. We define, and rationalize, types of beliefs that form the ‘knowledge spectrum’. Using a sample of over 7000 UK residents, we estimate these beliefs with respect to three topics: an animal-based diet, alcohol consumption and immigration. We construct an information-campaign effectiveness index (ICEI) that predicts the success of an information campaign. Information resistance is greatest for animal-based diets, and the ICEI is highest for immigration. We test the predictive power of our ICEI by simulating information campaigns, which produces supportive evidence. Our method can be used by any government or company that wants to explore the success of an information campaign.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. We found no statistical differences across treatments within topics for the control questions (Kruskal-Wallis equality-of-populations rank test; diet: \(p=0.321\), alcohol: \(p=0.802\), political self-placement: \(p=0.259\)).

  2. We found no statistical differences between H-NL and H-NL-Info within topics for the control questions (Mann-Whitney U test; diet: p = 0.39, alcohol: p = 0.35, political self-placement: p = 0.50).

  3. Note that this questionnaire included an ‘I don’t know’ answer option.

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Correspondence to Romain Espinosa.

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We would like to thank Georg Granic, Nicolas Treich, Andrew Clark, the editor and three anonymous referees for useful comments, as well as participants in various seminars (BETA Strasbourg, LESSAC Dijon, and CREM Rennes) and conferences (ASFEE 2019 Toulouse). We are also grateful to ERIM, NWO (Veni Grant 016.155.026, and Vidi Grant 195.061), ANR (Grant ANR-19-CE21-0005-01) for financial support.

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Espinosa, R., Stoop, J. Do people really want to be informed? Ex-ante evaluations of information-campaign effectiveness. Exp Econ 24, 1131–1155 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10683-020-09692-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10683-020-09692-6

Keywords

  • Information campaigns
  • Information resistance
  • Experiment
  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Immigration
  • Knowledge spectrum

JEL Classification

  • C70
  • C90
  • D10
  • D1