POLITICAL SCIENCE

Inducing potential voters to go the polls

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Science  01 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6294, pp. 40-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6294.40-a

“Naming” not as effective as “shaming” in getting voters to the polls.

PHOTO: © WAREHAM.NL (ALGEMENE NIEUWS)/ALAMY

A key challenge for any political campaign is to get its voters to actually vote. Field experiments have demonstrated that canvassing and phone calls are more effective than direct mail; all of these interventions increase voter participation by 0.5 to as much as 3 percentage points. With this in mind, Gerber et al. have reexamined an intervention based on the theory that nouns describe more stable attributes than verbs; for instance, “I am a Republican” versus “I vote for Republicans.” They find, using 11,000 voters across three U.S. states, no difference between “noun” and “verb” phone calls and that neither message is as effective as referring to social norms in getting voters to the polls.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113, 10.1073/pnas.1513727113 (2016).

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