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Subtle linguistic cues may not affect voter behavior: new evidence

Gerber, Alan S., Huber, Gregory A., Biggers, Daniel R. and Hendry, David J. (2016) Subtle linguistic cues may not affect voter behavior: new evidence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113 (26). pp. 7112-7117. ISSN 0027-8424

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Identification Number: 10.1073/pnas.1513727113

Abstract

One of the most important recent developments in social psychology is the discovery of minor interventions that have large and enduring effects on behavior. A leading example of this class of results is Bryan et al. (2011), which shows that administering a set of survey items worded so that subjects think of themselves as voters (noun treatment) rather than as voting (verb treatment) substantially increases political participation (voter turnout) among subjects. We revisit these experiments by replicating and extending their research design in a large-scale field experiment. In contrast to the 11 to 14 percentage point greater turnout among those exposed to the noun rather than verb treatment reported in Bryan et al. (2011), we find no statistically significant difference in turnout between the noun and verb treatments (the point estimate of the difference is approximately zero). Further, when we benchmark these treatments against a standard get-outthe- vote message, we find that both are less effective at increasing turnout than a much shorter basic mobilization message. In sum, in our experiments, we find no evidence that describing a subject as a voter rather than as voting has a positive relative or absolute effect on subject behavior. In our conclusion, we detail how our study differs from Bryan et al. (2011) and discuss how our results might be interpreted.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.pnas.org/
Additional Information: © 2016 The Authors
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Sets: Departments > Methodology
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2017 13:40
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2019 01:36
Funders: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/85000

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