? All interventions
Phone calls encouraging citizens to vote are staples of modern campaigns. Insights from psychological science can make these calls dramatically more potent while also generating opportunities to expand psychological theory. We present a field experiment conducted during the 2008 presidential election (N = 287,228) showing that facilitating the formation of a voting plan (i.e., implementation intentions) can increase turnout by 4.1 percentage points among those contacted, but a standard encouragement call and self-prediction have no significant impact. Among single-eligible-voter households, the formation of a voting plan increased turnout among persons contacted by 9.1 percentage points, whereas those in multiple-eligible-voter households were unaffected by all scripts. Some situational factors may organically facilitate implementation-intentions formation more readily than others; we present data suggesting that this could explain the differential treatment effect that we found. We discuss implications for psychological and political science, and public interventions involving implementation-intentions formation.
| N Malhotra, MR Michelson, T Rogers, A Valenzuela|
Dale and Strauss’s (DS) noticeable reminder theory (NRT) of voter mobilization posits that mobilization efforts that are highly noticeable and salient to potential voters, even if impersonal, can be successful. In an innovative experimental design, DS show that text messages substantially boost turnout, challenging previous claims that social connectedness is the key to increasing participation. We replicate DS’s research design and extend it in two key ways. First, whereas the treatment in DS’s experiment was a “warm” text message combined with contact, we test NRT more cleanly by examining the effect of “cold” text messages that are completely devoid of auxiliary interaction. Second, we test an implication of NRT that habitual voters should exhibit the largest treatment effects in lower salience elections whereas casual voters should exhibit the largest treatment effects in higher salience elections. Via these two extensions, we find support for NRT.
Vote-buying and vote-selling obstruct the democratic process, yet they remain pervasive in many developing democracies. Researchers asked voters in the Philippines to make a simple, unenforceable promise not to accept money from politicians or to promise to vote according to their conscience, even if they do accept money, to test the impact of promises on voters’ behavior. A majority of respondents made promises not to sell their votes. Researchers found that the promise significantly reduced vote-selling, cutting the number of people who sold their votes by 11 percentage points in the smallest-stakes election, but was not effective in the mayoral election with higher pay-outs. These results suggest that simply asking voters to promise not to sell votes can help reduce vote-selling in elections where vote-buying payments are typically small.
| T Rogers, J Ternovski, E Yoeli|
People contribute more to public goods when their contributions are made more observable to others. We report an intervention that subtly increases the observability of public goods contributions when people are solicited privately and impersonally (e.g., mail, email, social media). This intervention is tested in a large-scale field experiment (n=770,946) in which people are encouraged to vote through get-out-the-vote letters. We vary whether the let-ters include the message, “We may call you after the election to ask about your voting experience.” Increasing the perceived ob-servability of whether people vote by including that message increased the impact of the get-out-the-vote letters by more than the entire effect of a typical get-out-the-vote letter. This tech-nique for increasing perceived observability can be replicated whenever public goods solicitations are made in private.