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Will ‘Telling On Your Neighbors’ Get Them to Vote?

The American Political Science Review‘s Feb. 2008 issue has a new study by Alan Gerber, Donald Green, and Christopher Larimer testing the accuracy of voter turnout theories based on “rational self-interested behavior.” The researchers sought to “distinguish between two aspects of this type of utility, intrinsic satisfaction from behaving in accordance with a norm and extrinsic incentives to comply.” To accomplish this, they sent out a series of mailings to several hundred thousand registered voters. One in particular led to a whopping 8.1 percent increase in voter turnout. What were its contents? It told whether recipients and their neighbors had voted in past elections, and promised to send an updated list after the upcoming election.

(Hat tip: Jeffrey Gordon)