Take Action

Home | Faculty & Research Overview | Research

Research Details

Cool to Be Smart or Smart to Be Cool: Understanding Peer Pressure in Education, Review of Economic Studies

Abstract

Concerns about social image may negatively affect schooling behavior. We identify two potentially important peer cultures: one that stigmatizes effort (thus, where it is “smart to be cool”) and one that rewards ability (where it is “cool to be smart”). We build a model showing that either may lower the takeup of educational activities when takeup and performance are potentially observable to peers. We design a field experiment allowing us to test whether students are influenced by these concerns at all, and then which they are more influenced by. We examine high schools in two settings: a low-income, high minority share area and a higher-income, lower minority share area. In both settings, peer pressure reduces takeup of an SAT prep package. We show that this is consistent with a greater concern for hiding effort in the lower-income school, and a greater concern with hiding low ability in the higher-income schools.

Type

Article

Author(s)

Leonardo Bursztyn, Georgy Egorov, Robert Jensen

Date Published

2019

Citations

Bursztyn, Leonardo, Georgy Egorov, and Robert Jensen. 2019. Cool to Be Smart or Smart to Be Cool: Understanding Peer Pressure in Education. Review of Economic Studies. 86(4): 1487-1526.

LINK
KELLOGG INSIGHT

Explore leading research and ideas

Find articles, podcast episodes, and videos that spark ideas in lifelong learners, and inspire those looking to advance in their careers.
learn more

COURSE CATALOG

Review Courses & Schedules

Access information about specific courses and their schedules by viewing the interactive course scheduler tool.
LEARN MORE

DEGREE PROGRAMS

Discover the path to your goals

Whether you choose our Full-Time, Part-Time or Executive MBA program, you’ll enjoy the same unparalleled education, exceptional faculty and distinctive culture.
learn more

Take Action