An Experimental Test for "Backlash" Against Social Pressure Techniques Used to Mobilize Voters

Richard E. Matland, Gregory Roy Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This research explores the possibility of psychological reactance, or "backlash," against political candidates who use social pressure to mobilize voters. There is a compelling theoretical argument and solid empirical evidence suggesting social pressure substantially increases voter turnout. There is, however, equally noteworthy evidence suggesting social pressure frequently stimulates a negative reaction in targets. This research uses a lab-in-the-field experimental design that employs a hypothetical social pressure message to evaluate whether a candidate's use of social pressure to turnout voters may increase anger and hostility toward that candidate, possibly to the point it increases the likelihood a citizen will actually vote against that candidate. Our findings indicate social pressure mobilization techniques evoke consequential psychological reactance against their sponsor. Until future research can further assess these effects, we suggest social pressure mobilization techniques should be used by campaigns only after careful consideration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-386
Number of pages28
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2013

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candidacy
reactance
mobilization
voter turnout
anger
evidence
voter
campaign
citizen

Keywords

  • backlash
  • campaigns
  • elections
  • experiment
  • reactance
  • social pressure
  • voter mobilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

An Experimental Test for "Backlash" Against Social Pressure Techniques Used to Mobilize Voters. / Matland, Richard E.; Murray, Gregory Roy.

In: American Politics Research, Vol. 41, No. 3, 01.05.2013, p. 359-386.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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