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Can the Stress of Voting Be Reduced? A Test within the Context of the 2012 US Presidential Election

33 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2013  

Jayme Neiman

University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Kevin B. Smith

University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Jeffrey French

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Israel Waismel-Manor

University of Haifa

John R. Hibbing

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

One out of three voters in the 2012 U.S. elections voted at home rather than at traditional polling places yet little is known about the physiological and psychological consequences of distinct voting modalities. One potential difference is the amount of stress involved and, in order to determine the level of stress associated with different voting procedures, we conducted a novel field experiment within the context of the 2012 election. Participants were randomly assigned either to vote at the polls, to vote at home, or (as a control) to go to a convenience store. Stress levels were then measured via survey self-report and also via levels of cortisol, a glucocorticoid known to be relevant to stress. The results indicate a significant elevation in cortisol when voting took place at traditional polling places and therefore have implications for reformers pondering the value of expanding opportunities for at-home voting.

Suggested Citation

Neiman, Jayme and Smith, Kevin B. and French, Jeffrey and Waismel-Manor, Israel and Hibbing, John R., Can the Stress of Voting Be Reduced? A Test within the Context of the 2012 US Presidential Election (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper; American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2301011

Jayme Neiman (Contact Author)

University of Nebraska at Lincoln ( email )

Lincoln, NE 68588
United States

Kevin B. Smith

University of Nebraska at Lincoln ( email )

Lincoln, NE 68588
United States

Jeffrey French

University of Nebraska at Omaha ( email )

6001 Dodge Street
Omaha, NE 68182
United States

Israel Waismel-Manor

University of Haifa ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

John R. Hibbing

University of Nebraska at Lincoln - Department of Political Science ( email )

511 Oldfather Hall
P.O. Box 880328
Lincoln, NE 68588-0328
United States

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