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Framing Effects in Political Decision Making: Evidence From a Natural Voting Experiment

  • Monika Bütler

    ()

  • Michel André Maréchal

    ()

This paper analyzes a recent ballot in which two virtually identical popular initiatives, both demanding a decrease in the legal age of retirement in Switzerland, led to differences in approval rates of nearly seven percentage points. Based on this unique natural experiment, the existence of emphasis framing effects is tested for and their determinants are identified outside of the controlled settings of laboratories. Nonetheless, the analyzed setting allows for considerably more control than usually available in the field: All party, government and interest group recommendations were symmetric for both initiatives, and the simultaneous vote rules out potential variation of individual preferences and compositional changes of the electorate over time. Using community and individual level data it is shown that the difference in approval rates is largely due to the different emphases in the initiatives' titles.

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File URL: http://www1.vwa.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/dp2007/DP04-Bu.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen in its series University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2007 with number 2007-04.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2007:2007-04
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  8. Sunghan Kim & David Goldstein & Lynn Hasher & Rose T. Zacks, 2005. "Framing Effects in Younger and Older Adults," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 60(4), pages P215-P218.
  9. DellaVigna, Stefano & Kaplan, Ethan, 2006. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," Seminar Papers 748, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  10. Piketty, Thomas, 2000. "Voting as Communicating," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 169-91, January.
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  13. Levin, Irwin P. & Schneider, Sandra L. & Gaeth, Gary J., 1998. "All Frames Are Not Created Equal: A Typology and Critical Analysis of Framing Effects," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 149-188, November.
  14. Grether, David M & Plott, Charles R, 1979. "Economic Theory of Choice and the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 623-38, September.
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  17. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence from U.S. Daily Newspapers," NBER Working Papers 12707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Marianne Bertrand & Dean S. Karlan & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "What's Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market," Working Papers 918, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  19. Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer:, . "Are Voters Better Informed When They Have a Larger Say in Politics? Evidence for the European Union and Switzerland," IEW - Working Papers 119, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  20. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S251-78, October.
  21. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2004. "Voting when money and morals conflict: an experimental test of expressive voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1645-1664, July.
  22. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  23. Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  24. John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Direct Democracy Works," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 185-206, Spring.
  25. Fagley, N. S. & Miller, Paul M., 1997. "Framing Effects and Arenas of Choice: Your Money or Your Life?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 355-373, September.
  26. Druckman, James N, 2001. "Using Credible Advice to Overcome Framing Effects," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 62-82, April.
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