How Does Peer Pressure Affect Educational Investments?
Posted by National Bureau of Economic Research on December 15, 2014
The mighty impact of peer pressure
Depending on context, the rate at which students sign up for SAT prep can dramatically differ, according to a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, reports Max Nisen for The Atlantic. Researchers offered free access to an online SAT prep course (normal cost: $200) to juniors at large, predominantly low-income, low-performing Los Angeles high schools. In non-honors classes when sign-ups were made public, participation dropped by 11 percent. The publicity had no effect on students in honors classes. To net out the possibility that honors and non-honors students might have different characteristics or priorities, researchers limited part of the study to students who take only some honors classes so that researchers would encounter them in non-honors classes as well. In this case, students presented with the choice to sign up in the honors class were 25 percent more likely to do so if the decision was public those in a non-honors class were 25 percent less likely. The data suggest social pressure is dramatically different depending on type of class, and that pupils’ decisions to enroll are contingent on the kind of class they are in at the time of offer.
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