Social norms are sometimes misperceived, which has consequences for important economic outcomes. However, little is known about why misperceptions exist in the first place. This project focuses on the role of communication in shaping misperceptions, which Ieda studies in the context of masculinity norms among 7th-9th graders in collaboration with the Secretariat of Education of the City of Rio de Janeiro.
This project is the first in the economics literature to causally estimate the role of communication in misperceptions and social image concerns.
The study assigns children to discussion groups to learn peers’ opinions about two traditional beliefs about masculinity: men who cry are weak and men should use violence to get respect. To further investigate different types of communicators, half of the intervention discussion groups allow children to volunteer to speak (vocal group) and half of the intervention discussion groups randomly pre-select students to be invited to share (representative group). Comparison discussion groups focus on a masculinity-neutral topic (recycling). In a pilot with nearly 200 children, she documents baseline misperceptions, which are almost entirely corrected by the masculinity discussion groups and suggestive evidence that the type of communicator may matter. The full study will include over 2,000 children.
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