Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Is Voting Contagious? Evidence from Two Field Experiments

  • DAVID W. NICKERSON (a1)
Abstract

Members of the same household share similar voting behaviors on average, but how much of this correlation can be attributed to the behavior of the other person in the household? Disentangling and isolating the unique effects of peer behavior, selection processes, and congruent interests is a challenge for all studies of interpersonal influence. This study proposes and utilizes a carefully designed placebo-controlled experimental protocol to overcome this identification problem. During a face-to-face canvassing experiment targeting households with two registered voters, residents who answered the door were exposed to either a Get Out the Vote message (treatment) or a recycling pitch (placebo). The turnout of the person in the household not answering the door allows for contagion to be measured. Both experiments find that 60% of the propensity to vote is passed onto the other member of the household. This finding suggests a mechanism by which civic participation norms are adopted and couples grow more similar over time.

Copyright
Corresponding author
David W. Nickerson is Professor, University of Notre Dame, Department of Political Science, 217 O'Shaughnessy Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556 (dnickers@nd.edu).
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Joshua D. Angrist , Guido W. Imbens , and Donald B. Rubin . 1996. “Identification of Casual Effects Using Instrumental Variables.Journal of the American Statistical Association 91 (June): 444–55.

Paul Allen Beck . 1991. “Voters Intermediation Environments in the 1988 Presidential Contest.Public Opinion Quarterly 55 (Fall): 371–94.

Russel J. Dalton , and Martin P. Wattenberg , eds. 2002. Parties without Partisans: Political Processes in Advanced Industrialized Democracies. New York: Oxford University Press.

Donald P. Green , Alan S. Gerber , and David W. Nickerson . 2003. “Getting Out the Vote in Local Elections: Results from Six Door-to-Door Canvassing Experiments.Journal of Politics 65 (November): 1083–96.

Bernadette C. Hayes , and Clive S. Bean . 1992. “The Impact of Spousal Characteristics on Political Attitudes in Australia.Public Opinion Quarterly 56 (Winter): 524–29.

Robert Huckfeldt , and John Sprague . 1991. “Discussant Effects on Vote Choice: Intimacy, Structure, and Interdependence.Journal of Politics 53 (February): 122–58.

Elihu Katz . 1957. “The Two-Step Flow of Communication: An Up-To-Date Report on an Hypothesis.Public Opinion Quarterly 21 (1): 6178.

Christopher B. Kenny 1994. “The Microenvironment of Attitude Change.” Journal of Politics 56 (August), 715–28.

Casey A. Klofstad 2007. “Talk Leads to Recruitment: How Discussions about Politics and Current Events Increase Civic Participation.Political Research Quarterly 60 (June): 180–91.

Charles F. Manski 1993. “Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem.Review of Economic Studies 60 (July): 531–42.

Scott D. McClurg 2004. “Indirect Mobilization: The Social Consequences of Party Contacts in an Election Campaign.American Politics Research 32 (July): 406–43.

Melissa Michelson . 2003. “Getting Out the Latino Vote: How door-to-door canvassing influences voter turnout in rural Central California.Political Behavior 25 (September): 247–63.

Daniel J. Myers 1997. “Racial Rioting in the 1960S: An Event History Analysis of Local Conditions.American Sociological Review 62 (February): 94112.

David W. Nickerson 2005. “Scaleable Protocols Offer Efficient Design for Field Experiments.Political Analysis 13 (Summer): 233–52.

David W. Nickerson 2006. “Volunteer Phone Calls Can Increase Turnout: Evidence from Eight Field Experiments.American Politics Research 34 (May): 271–92.

David W. Nickerson 2007. “Quality is Job One: Volunteer and Professional Phone Calls.American Journal of Political Science 51 (April): 269–82.

David W. Nickerson , Ryan K. Friedrichs , and David C. King . 2006. “Partisan Mobilization Campaigns in the Field: Results from a Statewide Mobilization Campaign in Michigan.Political Research Quarterly 59 (March): 8597.

Richard G. Niemi , Roman Hedges , and M. Kent Jennings . 1977. “The Similarity of Husbands' and Wives' Political Views.American Politics Quarterly 5 (2): 133–48.

Thomas R. Palfrey , and Rosenthal Howard . 1983. “A Strategic Calculus of Voting.Public Choice 41 (1): 753.

John P. Robinson 1976. “Interpersonal Influence in Election Campaigns: Two Step-Flow Hypotheses.Public Opinion Quarterly 40 (Summer): 304–19.

Bruce I. Sacerdote 2001. “Peer Effects With Random Assignment.Quarterly Journal of Economics 116 (May): 681704.

John Wilson , and Marc Musick . 1997. “Who Cares? Toward an Integrated Theory of Volunteer Work.American Sociological Review 62 (October): 694713.

Alan S. Zuckerman , and Laurence A. Kotler-Berkowitz . 1998. “Politics and Society: Political Diversity and Uniformity in Households as a Theoretical Puzzle.” Comparative Political Studies 31 (August): 464–97.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×