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Are political statements only expressive? An experiment

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  • Barton, Jared
  • Rodet, Cortney

Abstract

Many forms of political communication are thought to be expressive rather than instrumental. We present evidence suggesting the presence of a perceived instrumental benefit of individual political communication. Subjects may send a sometimes costly comment on another person's choice of how to donate to two rival political groups. Subjects who may comment before the choice is made – when they may have some persuasive impact – are more than twice as likely to comment as those who may only send a message after the decision. When the timing of the messages – pre- or post-decision – remains fixed, but the experimenter alone receives the message, there is no difference in the proportion of messages sent pre- and post-decision. Moreover, most of the comments made to the decision-maker prior to the decision use an imperative construction, while few do so after the decision is made or when writing to the experimenter alone. Taken together, these results indicate that political expression is both expressive and instrumental.

Suggested Citation

  • Barton, Jared & Rodet, Cortney, 2015. "Are political statements only expressive? An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 174-186.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:116:y:2015:i:c:p:174-186
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.04.015
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Communication; Expression; Political; Dictator game; Persuasion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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