Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 November 2020
Do small wording differences in message-based behavioral interventions have outsized effects on behavior? An influential initial study, examining this question in the domain of political behavior using two small-scale field experiments, argues that subtle linguistic cues in voter mobilization messages describing someone as a voter (noun) instead of one who votes (verb) dramatically increases turnout rates by activating a person's social identity as a voter. Two subsequent large-scale replication field experiments challenged this claim, finding no effect even in electorally competitive settings. However, these experiments may not have reproduced the psychological context needed to motivate behavioral change because they did not occur in highly competitive and highly salient electoral contexts. Addressing this major criticism, we conduct a large-scale, preregistered replication field experiment in the 2016 presidential election. We find no evidence that noun wording increases turnout compared to verb wording in this highly salient electoral context, even in competitive states.