Most places give out “I voted” stickers to honor voters. Perhaps a scarlet letter on non-voters would work better.
Suppose a local newspaper planned to honor those who vote by listing their names in a post-election issue. Would you be more likely to vote?
Now, suppose a local newspaper planned to shame those who stayed home by listing their names instead. Would you be more likely to vote?
That’s the question Costas Panagopoulos asks in recent study in Political Behavior, part of a special issue (read some background) dealing with the effects of social pressure on voting. Voting is a norm. Pangopoulous divided a bunch of voters into a control group, an “honor” treatment, and a “shame” treatment. The two treatment groups received a postcard. The first received a card announcing that voters would have their names listed in the paper. The second received a card announcing that non-voters would have their names listed. All these postcards went out in November 2007, a low-turnout municipal election year. Read More