Skip to main content Accessibility help

How gender affects the efficacy of discussion as an information shortcut

  • Yanna Krupnikov (a1), Kerri Milita (a2), John Barry Ryan (a1) and Elizabeth C. Connors (a1)


There are a number of observed gender differences in the frequency of political discussion, perceived levels of expertise, and importantly, openness to persuasion. This article explores the consequences of these differences for political choices. Given the difficulty in separating influence from homophily with observational data, this paper relies on a group-based experiment. Results suggest that when selecting between candidates, women are more likely to accept information from others, even if the information in the signals is not helpful. Men, on the other hand, often ignore outside signals in favor of sticking with their own choices even when outside signals would be helpful to their decision-making. A reanalysis of a previously published experiment on social communication leads to similar gender differences.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail:


Hide All
Achen, CH and Shively, WP (1995) Cross-Level Inference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ahn, T and Ryan, JB (2015) The overvaluing of expertise in discussion partner choice. Journal of Theoretical Politics 27, 380400.
Ahn, T, Huckfeldt, R and Ryan, JB (2010) Communication, influence, and informational asymmetries among voters. Political Psychology 31, 763787.
Ahn, T, Huckfeldt, R and Ryan, JB (2014) Experts, Activists, and Interdependent Citizens: Are Electorates Self-Educating? New York: Cambridge University Press.
Atkeson, LR and Rapoport, RB (2003) The more things change the more they stay the same: gender differences in political attitude expression, 1952–2000. Public Opinion Quarterly 67, 495521.
Austen-Smith, D and Feddersen, TJ (2009) Information aggregation and communication in committees. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London—Series B: Biological Sciences 364, 763769.
Baldassarri, D and Bearman, P (2007) Dynamics of political polarization. American Sociological Review 72, 784811.
Barnes, TD (2016) Gendering Legislative Behavior: Institutional Constraints and Collaboration. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Berry, WD, DeMeritt, JHR and Esarey, J (2010) Testing for interaction in binary logit and probit models: is a product term essential? American Journal of Political Science 54, 248266.
Bock, O, Baetge, I and Nicklisch, A (2014) hroot: Hamburg registration and organization online tool. European Economic Review 71, 117120.
Boudreau, C, Elmendorf, CS and MacKenzie, SA (2015) Lost in space? Information shortcuts, spatial voting, and local government representation. Political Research Quarterly 68, 843855.
Calvert, RL (1985) The value of biased information: a rational choice model of political advice. The Journal of Politics 47, 530555.
Campbell, A, Converse, PE, Miller, WE and Stokes, DE (1960) The American Voter. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Cialdini, RB (1984) Influence: How and Why People Agree to Things. New York: William Morrow and Company.
Crawford, VP (2003) Lying for strategic advantage: rational and boundedly rational misrepresentation of intentions. American Economic Review 93, 133149.
Crawford, VP and Sobel, J (1982) Strategic information transmission strategic information transmission. Econometrica 50, 14311451.
Croson, R and Gneezy, U (2009) Gender differences in preferences. Journal of Economic Literature 47, 448474.
Djupe, PA, McClurg, SD and Sokhey, AE (2016) The political consequences of gender in social networks. doi: 10.1017/S0007123416000156.
Djupe, PA and Sokhey, AE (2014) The distribution and determinants of socially-supplied political expertise. American Politics Research 42, 199225.
Downs, A (1957) An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper Row.
Eagly, A and Wood, W (2011) Social role theory. In Lange, PAV, Kruglanski, AW and Higgins, ET (eds), Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology, vol. 2. Los Angeles: Sage, pp. 458476.
Eagly, A and Wood, W (2013) The nature-nurture debates: 25 years of challenges in understanding the psychology of gender. Perspectives on Psychological Science 8, 340357.
Eagly, A, Wood, W and Diekman, AB (2000) Social role theory of sex differences and similarities: a current appraisal. In Eckes, T and Trautner, HM (eds), The Developmental Social Psychology of Gender. New York: Taylor and Francis Group, pp. 123174.
Eveland, WP Jr. and Hutchens, MJ (2013) The role of conversation in developing accurate political perceptions: a multilevel social network approach. Human Communication Research 39, 422444.
Fischbacher, U (2007) Z-tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments. Experimental Economics 10, 171178.
Greiner, B (2004) An online recruitment system for economic experiments. In Kremer, K and Macho, V (eds), Forschung und wissenschaftliches Rechnen. Gottingen, Germany: Datenverarbeitung, pp. 7993.
Guadagno, RE and Cialdini, RB (2002) Online persuasion: an examination of gender differences in computer-mediated interpersonal influence. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice 6, 3851.
Huckfeldt, R and Sprague, J (1995) Citizens, Politics, and Social Communication: Information and Influence in an Election Campaign. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Huckfeldt, R, Levine, J, Morgan, W and Sprague, J (1998) Election campaigns, social communication, and the accessibility of perceived discussant preference. Political Behavior 20, 263294.
Huckfeldt, R, Johnson, PE and Sprague, J (2004) Political Disagreement: The Survival of Diverse Opinions within Communication Networks. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Jackman, S and Sniderman, PM (2006) The limits of deliberative discussion: a model of everyday political arguments. The Journal of Politics 68, 272283.
Kanthak, K and Woon, J (2015) Women don't run? Election aversion and candidate entry. American Journal of Political Science 59, 595612.
Karpowitz, CF and Mendelberg, T (2014) The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, and Institutions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Kenny, C (1998) The behavioral consequences of political discussion: another look at discussant effects on vote choice. The Journal of Politics 60, 231244.
Klar, S and Krupnikov, Y (2016) Independent Politics: How American Disdain for Parties Leads to Political Inaction. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Koenig, AM, Eagly, AH, Mitchell, AA and Ristikari, T (2011) Are leader stereotypes masculine? A meta-analysis of three research paradigms. Psychological Bulletin 137, 616642.
Krupnikov, Y and Ryan, JB (2017) Choice versus action: candidate ambiguity and voter decision making. Quarterly Journal of Political Science 12, 479505.
Lau, RR and Redlawsk, DP (1997) Voting correctly. American Political Science Review 91, 585598.
Lau, RR, Andersen, DJ and Redlawsk, DP (2008) An exploration of correct voting in recent U.S. presidential elections. American Journal of Political Science 52, 395411.
Lavine, HG, Johnston, CD and Steenbergen, MR (2012) The Ambivalent Partisan: How Critical Loyalty Promotes Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lodge, M and Taber, C (2013) The Rationalizing Voter. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lupia, A and McCubbins, MD (1998) The Democratic Dilemma: Can Citizens Learn What They Need To Know? New York: Cambridge University Press.
Maddux, WW and Brewer, MB (2005) Gender differences in the relational and collective bases for trust. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations 8, 159171.
Mendez, JM and Osborn, T (2010) Gender the perception of knowledge in political discussion. Political Research Quarterly 63, 269279.
Mendez, JM and Osborn, T (2011) Two become one? Spouses and agreement in political opinions. American Politics Research 39, 783803.
Milita, K (2015) Election laws and agenda-setting: how election law restrictiveness shapes the complexity of state ballot measures. State Politics and Policy Quarterly 15, 119146.
Ryan, JB (2011) Social networks as a shortcut to correct voting. American Journal of Political Science 55, 753766.
Ryan, JB (2013) An experimental study of persuasive social communication. Political Communication 30, 100116.
Smith, VL (1982) Microeconomic systems as an experimental science. The American Economic Review 72, 923955.
Sniderman, PM (2000) Taking sides: a fixed choice theory of political reasoning. In Lupia, A, McCubbins, MD and Popkin, SL (eds), Elements of Reason: Cognition, Choice, and the Bounds of Rationality. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 6784.
Sokhey, AE and McClurg, SD (2012) Social networks and correct voting. Journal of Politics 74, 754761.
Spencer, SJ, Steele, CM and Quinn, DM (1999) Stereotype threat and women's math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 35, 428.
Tannen, D (1990) Gender differences in topical coherence: creating involvement in best friends' talk. Discourse Processes 13, 7390.
Zaller, J and Feldman, S (1992) A simple theory of the survey response: answering questions versus revealing preferences. American Journal of Political Science 36, 579616.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Krupnikov et al. supplementary material
Online Appendix

 PDF (570 KB)
570 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed