Archive for December, 2013

Voting and Self-Image

December 4, 2013

People vote because voting is what they should do and they don’t want to lie if asked whether they did vote. This is found in a field experiment by Stefano DellaVigna et al. (paper, short interview).

Letting people know that others might ask them, is an obvious implication of our study, and it turns out that the Obama campaign did just that, too, as part of their turnout experiments. They let Democratic voters know that they would be asked whether they voted, and so this tight-knit community where there is some informal monitoring does seem to be one of the ways that keeps up voting. Now you may ask, “Is this a good or a bad thing, potentially inflicting shame and guilt on those that don’t vote?”, and that’s part of what we point to. That’s part of how we get voting to be high enough, which is generally a desirable objective.