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(Mis)Information and Anxiety: Evidence from a Randomized COVID-19 Information Campaign

28 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2021

See all articles by D Sadish

D Sadish


Achyuta Adhvaryu

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Anant Nyshadham

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business



Background: Dispelling misinformation during crises is of critical importance. But information can also induce distress, which can lead to poor decision-making. We ask whether delivering correct information hurts or improves mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Methods: We randomly assigned a sample of low-income migrant workers to receive Covid-19-related information through text messages, a pre-recorded audio message, or (live) phone calls.

Results: Misinformation was rampant at baseline. Phone calls led to the greatest increase in Covid-19-related knowledge, particularly among those without smartphones. They also reduced depression and anxiety substantially. The amount of information delivered explains gains in knowledge, but not improvements in mental health.

Conclusions: These results suggest that governments reconsider the dependence on text messages and pre-recorded audio given the mental health improvements created by live phone calls.

Trial Registration: The trial was pre-registered with the American Economic Association's Trial Registry (doi: 10.1257/rct.5947).

Funding: Good Business Lab funded the data collection and interventions.

Declaration of Interests: Adhvaryu and Nyshadham disclose that they are members of the Board of Directors and serve as Chief Development Officer and Chief Strategy Officer, respectively, at Good Business Lab. None of the authors has any financial interest in GBL.

Ethics Approval Statement: This study was approved by Good Business Lab's Ethics Committee in India (Identifier: GBL0520) and University of Michigan Human Subjects Research Committee in the United States (Office of Human Research Protections Registration Number: IRB00000246). We obtained informed consent from all study participants.

Suggested Citation

Sadish, D and Adhvaryu, Achyuta and Nyshadham, Anant, (Mis)Information and Anxiety: Evidence from a Randomized COVID-19 Information Campaign. Available at SSRN: or

Achyuta Adhvaryu

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Anant Nyshadham

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

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