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Can a Trusted Messenger Change Behavior when Information is Plentiful?

DATE: 2022-08-18
VIEWS: 1

By ABHIJIT BANERJEE, MARCELLA ALSAN, EMILY BREZA, ARUN G.CHANDRASEKHAR, ABHIJIT CHOWDHURY, ESTHER DUFLO, PAUL GOLDSMITH-PINKHAM, AND BENJAMIN A. OLKEN

Date Published: Aug 18, 2022


Can information from a credible messenger shift behavior in an information-saturated environment? In a randomized controlled trial involving twenty-eight million individuals in West Bengal, we find that SMS-delivered video messages containing information about COVID-19 symptoms and health-preserving behaviors recorded by a credible messenger increased adherence to targeted and nontargeted preventive behaviors, measured by two objective measures (symptoms reported to a health worker, and phone usage at home), as well as self-reported behaviors. We find large spillovers onto nontargeted recipients. Credible light-touch messaging can play an important role in crisis response, even when similar information is widely available.


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