Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fourteen magic words that can increase voter turnout by over 10 percentage points??

by Andrew Gelman

The Monkey Cage

September 4, 2011

Christopher Bryan, Gregory Walton, Todd Rogers, and Carol Dweck did two experiments in which they increased people’s voter turnout in real electionsby over 10 percentage points by simply asking them the following survey question on election day:

  • How important is it to you to be a voter in the upcoming election?

In the comparison condition, potential voters were asked:

  • How important is it to you to vote in the upcoming election?

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to have been a control condition in the experiments, so all they could really do was compare these two treatments to each other.

The gimmick of the experiment is that it harnesses humans’ natural belief in essentialism (see, for example, reference 14 in the link above), the idea that being “a voter” is more essential than being a person who happened to vote.


Read the Paper

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