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The Entertaining Way to Behavioral Change: Fighting HIV with MTV

Abhijit Banerjee, Eliana La Ferrara, Victor H. Orozco-Olvera

NBER Working Paper No. 26096
Issued in July 2019
NBER Program(s):Development Economics Program, Health Economics Program

We 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 we show that "edutainment" can work through an individual or a social channel. We 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, we created additional variation in the social messages they received and in the people with whom they watched the show. We 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. We also find reductions in STDs among women. These effects are stronger for viewers who report being more involved with the narrative, consistent with the psychological underpinnings of edutainment. Our 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 our study.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26096

 
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