Do Leaders Persuade? Field Experiment Evidence of Direct Persuasion by Members of Congress on Their Constituents

Posted: 22 Aug 2014

See all articles by William Minozzi

William Minozzi

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Michael A. Neblo

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Kevin M. Esterling

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - Department of Political Science

David Lazer

Northeastern University - Department of Political Science; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

Do leaders persuade? A large body of research explores the connection between mass opinion and elite behavior, and on how elected officials interact with their constituents. Yet there is surprisingly little evidence regarding direct interpersonal persuasion by leaders. Here we show that political leaders can persuade their constituents directly on three dimensions: substantive attitudes regarding issues, attributions regarding the leaders’ qualities, and subsequent voting behavior. We ran two field experiments consisting in 21 online town hall meetings with sitting Members of Congress. Study 1 examined 20 small town halls with Representatives (average 22 participants per town hall). Study 2 examined a large (175 person) town hall with a Senator. In both experiments we find that participating has significant and substantively important causal effects on all three dimensions of persuasion, yet no such effects on issues that were not discussed extensively in the sessions.

Keywords: Persuasion, U.S. Congress, Representation, Field Experiment

Suggested Citation

Minozzi, William and Neblo, Michael A. and Esterling, Kevin M. and Lazer, David, Do Leaders Persuade? Field Experiment Evidence of Direct Persuasion by Members of Congress on Their Constituents (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2455232

William Minozzi (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Michael A. Neblo

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Kevin M. Esterling

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Riverside, CA 92521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.politicalscience.ucr.edu/people/faculty/esterling/index.html

David Lazer

Northeastern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-373-2796 (Phone)
617-373-5311 (Fax)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Taubman Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-0102 (Phone)
617-496-1722 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.davidlazer.com

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
709
PlumX Metrics