Alan S. Gerber, Gregory A. Huber, Daniel R. Biggers, and David J. Hendry (2016) A Field Experiment Shows That Subtle Linguistic Cues Might Not Affect Voter Behavior. PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1513727113
An important development in social psychology is the discovery of minor interventions that have large behavioral effects. A leading example is a recent PNAS paper showing that a modest intervention inspired by psychological theory—wording survey items to encourage subjects to think of themselves as voters (noun treatment) rather than as voting (verb treatment)—has a large positive effect on political participation (voter turnout). We replicate and extend these experiments. In a large-scale field experiment, we find that encouraging subjects to think of themselves as voters rather than as voting has no effect on turnout and we estimate that both are less effective than a standard get out the vote mobilization message.
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