Can Online Civic Education Induce Democratic Citizenship? Experimental Evidence from a New Democracy
41 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 3, 2021
How can democratic values and behavior be induced in new democracies? To answer this question, we test the impact of original civic education interventions in Tunisia, implementing an experiment with subjects recruited through Facebook and Instagram. Participants were randomly assigned to three treatment groups and one placebo group. Two treatments were derived from prospect theory, emphasizing the benefits or gains of a democratic system, or the losses by pitting autocracy versus democracy. A third treatment, derived from self-efficacy theory, provided practical information regarding participation in the upcoming 2019 elections. Our findings suggest that online civic education can have a considerable effect on democratic citizenship, including a significant reduction in authoritarian nostalgia and increasing intended political behavior such as electoral registration. Effects are strongest among those less engaged in the electoral process. When comparing the treatments across outcomes, we find that loss/gain-framed interventions are most effective in promoting democratic orientations.
Keywords: Democratization, civic education, social media, online experiments, prospect theory, self-efficacy.
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