Researchers study impact of information on voters | 6/12/2018 | Staff
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Voter information campaigns don't shape voter behavior, according to an analysis of data combined from studies independently conducted but coordinated by researchers working in six developing countries. The study, co-authored by William & Mary Department of Government faculty members Eric Arias and Paula M. Pickering, was published in Science Advances July 3.

The paper, "Voter information campaigns and political accountability: Cumulative findings from a preregistered meta-analysis of coordinated trials," reports some key findings of a meta-analysis of information combined from projects supported by the Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP) initiative. More comprehensive information about individual studies and the meta-analysis will be featured in a book to be published this summer by Cambridge University Press. Arias, assistant professor, and Pickering, associate professor, worked on separate studies as part of the five-year project with Arias researching in Mexico and Pickering in Uganda.

Approach - Learning - Design - Randomized - Trials

"We implemented a novel approach to cumulative learning, coordinating on the design of seven randomized controlled trials to be fielded in six countries by independent research teams," the paper explains. "Uncommonly for multisite trials in the social sciences, we jointly preregistered a meta-analysis of results in advance of seeing the data.

"We find no evidence overall that typical, nonpartisan voter information campaigns shape voter behavior, although exploratory and subgroup analyses suggest conditions under which informational campaigns could be more effective. These null estimated effects are too seldom published, yet they can be critical for scientific progress and cumulative, policy-relevant learning."

Seven - Research - Teams - Design - Trials

Seven independent research teams coordinated on the design of randomized trials in six developing countries, where information deficits are acute, according to the paper.

This set of studies was the inaugural project of the Metaketa Initiative, organized by the EGAP network, which seeks to incentivize replication, ensure coordination between researchers to enhance aggregation of findings and encourage design and reporting standards that guard against...
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