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Diverse Pre-Treatment Effects in Survey Experiments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2017

Katerina Linos
Professor University of California, School of Law, Berkeley, e-mail:
Kimberly Twist
Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, e-mail:


Researchers using survey experiments typically assume respondents are blank slates, encountering information for the first time. We study how prior real-world information dissemination through the mass media shapes experimental results. We show prior exposure can lead us to both under- and overestimate true framing effects in experiments. Message clarity moderates the impact of pre-treatment, with clear information more likely to produce pre-treatment effects than unclear information.

Research Article
Copyright © The Experimental Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2017 

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