Social Effects of the Vote of the Majority: A Field-Experiment on the Brexit-Vote
47 Pages Posted: 20 May 2019
Date Written: April 9, 2019
The 2016 EU referendum result in the UK --- the so-called Brexit vote --- was widely perceived as a statement against immigration. We conducted a field-experiment in England to test whether the Brexit vote triggered anti-social attitudes towards immigrants. In a computerized quiz, our (non-deceptive) intervention randomized the information of whether the local majority voted to Leave or to Remain in the EU, shifting individuals' perceptions about the support for Brexit. We find that such information in support of Brexit increased negative attitudes towards immigrants living in the UK. This was evident from measures of extrinsic attitudes (i.e. self-reported policy preferences and allocation of money in a dictator game), but we observed no effects on intrinsic prejudice, as measured by an Implicit Association Test. We find that 'Brexiteers' reacted to the information that the majority voted to `Remain', while 'Remainers' reacted to the majority vote to `Leave'. Thus, the impactful treatments inhibited (rather than reinforced) individuals' pre-existing views to conform to the vote of the majority. Our findings provide insight into the effects of referenda results in changing individuals' attitudes.
Keywords: Brexit, field-experiment
JEL Classification: C93, D02, D72, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation