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STICERD Public Events and Lectures

STICERD Atkinson Lecture - Media and behaviour change: unpacking social effects

Eliana La Ferrara (Bocconi University)

Monday 13 November 2017 09:30 - 18:00

Due to the onging coronavirus outbreak, many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as online seminars. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.


About this event

In this lecture Eliana La Ferrara presented some recent research done in collaboration with Abhijit Banerjee (MIT) and Victor Orozco (World Bank).

The authors test the effectiveness of an entertainment education TV series, MTV Shuga, aimed at providing information and changing attitudes and behaviors related to HIV/AIDS. Using a simple model they show that “edutainment” can work through an “individual” or a “social” channel.

They conducted a randomized controlled trial in urban Nigeria where young viewers were exposed to MTV Shuga or to a placebo TV series. Among those exposed to MTV Shuga, additional variation was created in the `social messages' they received and in the people with whom they watched the show.

The authors find significant improvements in knowledge and attitudes towards HIV and risky sexual behavior. Treated subjects are twice as likely to get tested for HIV eight months after the intervention.

They also find reductions in STDs among women. These effects are stronger for viewers who report being more involved in the narrative, consistent with the psychological underpinnings of edutainment. The experimental manipulations of the social norm component did not produce significantly different results from the main treatment.

The “individual” effect of edutainment thus seems to have prevailed in the context of the study.

Eliana La Ferrara is Professor of Economics at Bocconi University, Milan. Her research is in the field of development economics, with a particular focus on the role of ethnicity, social norms and institutions