I Only Have Eyes for You: Does Implicit Social Pressure Increase Voter Turnout?

Richard E. Matland, Gregory Roy Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Get-out-the-vote mailers using explicit social pressure consistently increase electoral turnout; however, they often generate a negative reaction or backlash. One approach to increase turnout, yet alleviate backlash, may be to use implicit social pressure. An implicit social pressure technique that has shown promise is to display a set of eyes. Researchers contend eyes generate a feeling of being watched, which cues subjects to act in more prosocial ways to demonstrate compliance with social norms. Several studies support this argument, including two voter mobilization studies. The technique has not been widely tested, however, in the political context. In five randomized field experiments, we test the impact on turnout of mobilization mailers using eye displays. We extend previous research by testing for differences in effects between male and female eyes and across political cultures. The effects are substantively and statistically weak at best and inconsistent with previous findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-550
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume37
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

voter turnout
mobilization
voter
Pressure
Social Norms
political culture
experiment
Cues
Emotions
Research Personnel
Turnout
Research
Mobilization
Backlash

Keywords

  • eyespots
  • field experiment
  • implicit social pressure
  • voter mobilization
  • voter turnout

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and International Relations

Cite this

I Only Have Eyes for You : Does Implicit Social Pressure Increase Voter Turnout? / Matland, Richard E.; Murray, Gregory Roy.

In: Political Psychology, Vol. 37, No. 4, 01.08.2016, p. 533-550.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{b12b9a79a2ab436cb24ba45c7f82a957,
title = "I Only Have Eyes for You: Does Implicit Social Pressure Increase Voter Turnout?",
abstract = "Get-out-the-vote mailers using explicit social pressure consistently increase electoral turnout; however, they often generate a negative reaction or backlash. One approach to increase turnout, yet alleviate backlash, may be to use implicit social pressure. An implicit social pressure technique that has shown promise is to display a set of eyes. Researchers contend eyes generate a feeling of being watched, which cues subjects to act in more prosocial ways to demonstrate compliance with social norms. Several studies support this argument, including two voter mobilization studies. The technique has not been widely tested, however, in the political context. In five randomized field experiments, we test the impact on turnout of mobilization mailers using eye displays. We extend previous research by testing for differences in effects between male and female eyes and across political cultures. The effects are substantively and statistically weak at best and inconsistent with previous findings.",
keywords = "eyespots, field experiment, implicit social pressure, voter mobilization, voter turnout",
author = "Matland, {Richard E.} and Murray, {Gregory Roy}",
year = "2016",
month = "8",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/pops.12275",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "37",
pages = "533--550",
journal = "Political Psychology",
issn = "0162-895X",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - I Only Have Eyes for You

T2 - Does Implicit Social Pressure Increase Voter Turnout?

AU - Matland, Richard E.

AU - Murray, Gregory Roy

PY - 2016/8/1

Y1 - 2016/8/1

N2 - Get-out-the-vote mailers using explicit social pressure consistently increase electoral turnout; however, they often generate a negative reaction or backlash. One approach to increase turnout, yet alleviate backlash, may be to use implicit social pressure. An implicit social pressure technique that has shown promise is to display a set of eyes. Researchers contend eyes generate a feeling of being watched, which cues subjects to act in more prosocial ways to demonstrate compliance with social norms. Several studies support this argument, including two voter mobilization studies. The technique has not been widely tested, however, in the political context. In five randomized field experiments, we test the impact on turnout of mobilization mailers using eye displays. We extend previous research by testing for differences in effects between male and female eyes and across political cultures. The effects are substantively and statistically weak at best and inconsistent with previous findings.

AB - Get-out-the-vote mailers using explicit social pressure consistently increase electoral turnout; however, they often generate a negative reaction or backlash. One approach to increase turnout, yet alleviate backlash, may be to use implicit social pressure. An implicit social pressure technique that has shown promise is to display a set of eyes. Researchers contend eyes generate a feeling of being watched, which cues subjects to act in more prosocial ways to demonstrate compliance with social norms. Several studies support this argument, including two voter mobilization studies. The technique has not been widely tested, however, in the political context. In five randomized field experiments, we test the impact on turnout of mobilization mailers using eye displays. We extend previous research by testing for differences in effects between male and female eyes and across political cultures. The effects are substantively and statistically weak at best and inconsistent with previous findings.

KW - eyespots

KW - field experiment

KW - implicit social pressure

KW - voter mobilization

KW - voter turnout

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84931027966&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84931027966&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/pops.12275

DO - 10.1111/pops.12275

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84931027966

VL - 37

SP - 533

EP - 550

JO - Political Psychology

JF - Political Psychology

SN - 0162-895X

IS - 4

ER -