One of my busiest projects at the moment is working on behavior change in Liberian street youth, aiming to reduce poverty, crime and violence.
One of the interventions dispenses $200 cash grants to half the cohort. “We don’t want to get $200 by lottery,” they say, “we’d like $100 each.” I sympathize. They are pleased to be in the program but being a research subject is not all smiles.
We dispensed cash to our pilot group just a few weeks ago. As the lottery was won or lost, and the cash handed out or not, our assistants noticed money changing hands. “Risk-sharing groups” was the answer. Good grief. At least they didn’t totally unwind the experiment. Winners kept the bulk while sharing smaller amounts with losers — $50 or maybe just $25. An interesting outcome in itself.
The researchee defeats the researcher. I wonder if they realized that they could completely insure one another and get the outcome they want. Would I be that surprised if one managed to track down my blog and saw the idea as it is? I’m now not so sure…