The psychology of electoral mobilization: a subtle priming experiment

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In this paper we test the idea that citizens can be stimulated to vote in an election via subtle psychological processes, which have little or nothing to do with the act of voting as such. More specifically, we argue that presenting voters with stimuli that induce an active mood will increase their tendency to vote. We conducted an experiment to test our ideas. Participants were subtly primed by giving them a campaign leaflet that contained a word puzzle, which included words that are associated with either action or inaction. The results indicate that subtly primed participants in the action condition reported stronger voting intentions than those in the inaction condition. These findings suggest that individuals can indeed be stimulated (or inhibited) to vote through subtle psychological processes. We discuss the implications of our results for the study of voting behaviour as well as campaigns aimed at electoral mobilization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-311
JournalJournal of elections, public opinion and parties
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2016


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