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Turning worries into performance: Results from an online experiment during COVID

Eva Raiber, Daniela Horta Saenz and Timothée Demont
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Daniela Horta Saenz: Aix-Marseille School of Economics

French Stata Users' Group Meetings 2023 from Stata Users Group

Abstract: Worrisome topics, such as climate change, economic crises, or the COVID-19 pandemic are increasingly present and pervasive because of digital media and social networks. Do worries triggered by such topics affect the cognitive capacities of the youth? In an online experiment during the COVID-19 pandemic (N=1503), we test how the cognitive performance of university students responds when exposed to topics discussing current mental health issues related to social restrictions or future labor market uncertainties linked to the economic contraction. Moreover, we study how such response is affected by a performance goal. We find that the labor market topic increases cognitive performance when the latter is motivated by a goal. The positive reaction is mainly concentrated among students with larger financial and social resources, which points to an inequality-widening mechanism. Conversely, we find no effect after the mental health topic. We even find a weak negative response among those mentally vulnerable when payout is not conditioned on reaching a goal.

Date: 2023-08-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp, nep-hea, nep-hrm and nep-neu
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