The behavioral foundations of donations in politics

This is a working paper, please do not cite without author’s permission.

This study aims at understanding how persuasion effects are used to solicit campaign contributions. Campaign contributions take an essential role in elections, and often are a key factor in deciding the outcome. However, research is scarce insofar as measuring the effectiveness of techniques used on the ground. Specifically, I seek to study the effectiveness of social pressure in email solicitation by the use of nudging, one of the most commonly used techniques to alter behavior. To do so, I run two survey experiments and one field experiment. Preliminary analyses demonstrate that using social pressure in a message can increase the probability of donating by 9 percentage points. These results are especially interesting given the low cost of the treatment. Simply by formulating messages differently, political parties can drastically improve their chances of winning an election.

Bijean Ghafouri
Bijean Ghafouri
Doctoral Student

USC