Persuasion and public health: Evidence from an experiment with religious leaders during COVID-19 in Pakistan

We use a Randomised Controlled Trial in Pakistan to test whether one-on-one engagement with community religious leaders can encourage them to instruct congregants to comply with public health guidelines when attending religious gatherings.

Treated religious leaders are 25% more likely to tell a “mystery shopper” he must wear a mask to attend. Treatment effects are driven by respondents who understand COVID transmission at baseline, suggesting the treatment does not work by correcting basic knowledge about the disease. Rather, it may work by connecting this knowledge to respondents’ pro-social motivations and actions that they can take as community leaders.

This version is a draft.