Economics, College of Administrative Sciences and Economics

ERC Consolidator Grant 2019

SOCIALMALLEABILITY : Improving Gender and Immigrant Outcomes through the Social Malleability of Attitudes: Randomized Interventions on Peer Interactions in an Educational Setting

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Prof. Ertaç Güler’s ERC Consolidator Grant project aims to understand how peers and the nature of the classroom environment affect the choices and behaviors of individuals in childhood and investigates whether attitudes can be changed positively by conducting randomized controlled trials regarding these variables.

SOCIALMALLEABILITY studies the causal role of peer interactions and the nature of the classroom environment in the formation of individual beliefs, attitudes and non-cognitive skills in childhood, with a view towards (1) mitigating gender gaps in choices and outcomes, (2) improving attitudes towards immigrants and promoting integration, (3) improving achievement outcomes. To this end, the project will design randomized interventions on social interactions in the classroom, that exogenously manipulate (i) exposure to peers (randomizing gender and ethnicity combinations), (ii) the setting in which the interaction takes place (cooperative vs. competitive).

The conjecture is that particular types of peer interaction (e.g. cooperative work) can permanently shift both individual preferences and attitudes toward others, and lead to contagion of non-cognitive skills. The interventions will be embedded into a novel extracurricular program to be designed around teaching “coding”, and” and will be implemented across a large set of elementary schools in Istanbul, for the duration of a semester.

“In my research, I use lab and field experiments to study questions in the economics of education, gender, preferences, and information, with both adults and children. Another part of my agenda aims at understanding the neural basis of economic behavior.”