July 5, 2016
Estimating peer effects in networks with peer encouragement designs
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Peer effects, in which the behavior of an individual is affected by the behavior of their peers, are central to social science. Because peer effects are often confounded with homophily and common external causes, recent work has used randomized experiments to estimate effects of specific peer behaviors. These experiments have often relied on the experimenter being able to randomly modulate mechanisms by which peer behavior is transmitted to a focal individual. We describe experimental designs that instead randomly assign individuals’ peers to encouragements to behaviors that directly affect those individuals.
By: Dean Eckles, René F. Kizilcec, Eytan Bakshy