SHORT NOTES: Increasing Voting Behavior by Asking People if They Expect to Vote

Greenwald, Anthony G.; Carnot, Catherine G.; Beach, Rebecca; Young, Barbara
May 1987
Journal of Applied Psychology;May87, Vol. 72 Issue 2, p315
Academic Journal
In two studies, students contacted by telephone were asked to predict whether they would perform a particular behavior (registering to vote or voting, respectively) in the next few days. The proportion who predicted that they would do these socially desirable behaviors exceeded the proportion of control subjects who performed the behavior without first being asked to predict whether they would. Further, in the voting study these errors of overprediction were self-erasing in the sense described by S. J. Sherman (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1980, 39). That is, subjects who were asked to predict whether they would vote—all of whom predicted that they would—actually did vote with substantially greater probability than did the no-prediction control subjects. (Actual voting was verified by consulting official voter rolls.) Asking people to predict whether they will perform a socially desirable action appears to increase their probability of performing the action.


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