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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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  1. Grether, David M. & Plott, Charles R., . "Economic Theory of Choice and the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," Working Papers 152, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  2. 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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  8. Micael Castanheira, 2003. "Why Vote For Losers?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1207-1238, 09.
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  10. 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.
  11. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
  12. 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.
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  17. 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.
  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. Brennan, Geoffrey & Hamlin, Alan, 1998. " Expressive Voting and Electoral Equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 149-75, April.
  20. repec:att:wimass:9406 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Direct Democracy Works," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 185-206, Spring.
  22. James Andreoni, 1997. "Warm-glow versus cold-prickle: the effect of positive and negative framing on cooperation in experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 671, David K. Levine.
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  24. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  25. Piketty, Thomas, 2000. "Voting as Communicating," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 169-91, January.
  26. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  27. 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.
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