Research Associate, WhatsApp with India? The Effects of Social Media on Political Preferences and Social Attitudes - J-PAL South Asia

J-PAL South Asia
  • India
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
Start Date (Earliest):
Language Requirement:
  • English
  • Hindi
Length of Commitment:
Less than one year

We are seeking a Research Associate (RA) for a Bihar-based 2500-person RCT that aims to understand (a) the impact of social media on political and social preferences, and (b) which approaches to social media regulation are the most effective. The RA will be based in Bihar (exact location TBC) and will work directly under the 2 PIs (University of British Columbia and University of California, San Diego). Scoping is complete and piloting will begin soon. The RA would lead the remaining piloting, and would quickly switch to running the implementation of the full study (with the Baseline to be launched during the summer of 2020).

Project Description

India is the world's largest democracy. At least 400 million of its citizens are WhatsApp users. Some claim this app has transformed the way Indians behave, socially and politically. We will run a large field experiment in the lead up to regional elections in Bihar, India’s poorest state. One group of subjects will be paid to delete WhatsApp from their phones and to not use it for one full month pre-election; a second group will be paid to not use multimedia content on the app; a third group will be incentivized to read a daily digest of “high quality” news; and a final group will be left to their own devices. Using surveys and behavioural games, we will gauge impacts on voting behavior, political knowledge, demand for other news sources, and social attitudes. Results will inform technology policy and illuminate social media’s role in young democracies.

Key Responsibilities

The general tasks expected of the Research Associate will include, but are not limited to:

  • Designing survey questionnaires, conducting qualitative research, running piloting, refining study design and survey instruments
  • Brainstorming new ideas and solutions to logistical/design problems
  • Managing teams: recruit, train and supervise field-based operations teams consisting of 1 project assistant, 2 survey monitors and 4-16 surveyors
  • Supervise data collection using SurveyCTO to ensure good data quality
  • Co-ordinate with the Administrative and Finance team on a variety of tasks related to field staff contracting and payments, procurement, expense reimbursement, and partner organization reimbursement
  • Help establish a relationship with an non-profit working on combatting political misinformation
  • Assist with data cleaning and preliminary data analysis
  • Assist in preparation of documents and presentations for donor reporting as well as dissemination activities
  • Report to PIs on all of the above mentioned activities.

Required Qualifications

  • Fluent Hindi and English speaking and writing
  • Past experience of fieldwork; able to work independently and in rural field situations
  • Willingness to be based in Bihar (exact location TBC) for long period of time 

Desired Qualifications

  • Previous experience with JPAL/IFMR/IPA or similar, as Research Consultant/Associate or similar
  • A Bachelor’s/Master’s degree in Economics, Social Sciences, Public Policy or related fields
  • Excellent management and organizational skills along with strong quantitative skills
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and team player
  • Knowledge of Stata (strongly preferred) or other data analysis software

How to Apply

Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research job category, then select “Research Associate, WhatsApp with India? The Effects of Social Media on Political Preferences and Social Attitudes - J-PAL South Asia ”. Applications require you to include two letters of recommendation (ideally from previous PI's), statement of purpose (cover letter), CV, and transcripts.

Note that you are able to submit your application without the recommendation letters. However, please be advised that we will be requiring them should you be invited for an interview.

Given the volume of applications only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.