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Information, Perceptions, and Electoral Behaviour of Young Voters: A Randomised Controlled Experiment

Bruno Carvalho, Claudia Custodio, Benny Geys, Diogo Mendes and Susana Peralta

No 2020-14, Working Papers ECARES from ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: Young voters’ political behaviour differs from the rest of the electorate in that they exhibit lower turnout and express different preferences. This article examines the impact of information provision about central government on young voters’ perception of government performance and their voting behaviour. We randomly exposed a sample of university students to positive, neutral or negative information before the 2017 Portuguese local elections. Treated voters update their perceptions, more so when exposed to negative news. This negativity bias is stronger for first-time voters. We find no evidence of an average treatment effect on voting behaviour, but negative information significantly affects initially undecided voters. Our results indicate that sensitivity to information is heterogeneous and that some young voters may be more prone to manipulation through the provision of negative news.

Keywords: Media; Negativity Bias; Performance Perception; Local Elections; Information (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D83 H11 H70 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 58 p.
Date: 2020-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-exp, nep-pol and nep-soc
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