International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Anxiety, Duty Appeals and the Vote: An Experimental Study

Delia Dumitrescu, Universite de Montreal; André Blais, Université de Montréal

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: Universite de Montreal
Research Area: Political decision making

How do moral appeals to duty influence one’s strategic voting calculus and behavior? “Duty” is a common behavioural heuristic, which reduces the cognitive and emotional load of decision-making. We hypothesize, however, that when “duty” demands an individual to vote against their preferences, an appeal to duty will increase rather than decrease an individual’s cognitive and emotional involvement, particularly her level of election-related anxiety. We also hypothesize that extreme anxiety depresses likelihood of voting against one’s preferences. We replicate a newly developed hybrid experiment in which individuals have to vote for one of three parties, each carrying a payoff for a real NGO. Participants will have to vote in repeated elections in which various vote distributions provide them with incentives to vote strategically. The between-subjects manipulation focuses on duty messages: half of the participants are primed to consider their duty to defect from their preferred party before an election; the other half receives no “duty” appeal. We measure anxiety levels, sense of duty, as well as overall propensity to guilt and shame, as independent variables.