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The Political Influence of Peer Groups: Experimental Evidence from the Classroom

Camila Campos, Shaun Hargreaves Heap and Fernanda L L de Leon
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Camila Campos: Insper
Fernanda L L de Leon: University of East Anglia

No 53, University of East Anglia Applied and Financial Economics Working Paper Series from School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

Abstract: People who belong to the same group often behave alike. Is this because people with similar preferences naturally associate with each other or because group dynamics cause individual preferences and/or the information that they have to converge? This is the question that we address with a natural experiment. We focus on the possible influence of peers on two types of individual political behaviour: political identification on a left-right spectrum and political engagement. We find no evidence that peer political identification affects individual identification. But we do find that peer engagement affects individual engagement, individual political knowledge and political identification among those who are initially least engaged. We argue this (and other evidence) is most likely to arise from peer effects on the information that individuals have and not their preferences.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-cdm, nep-exp and nep-pol
Date: 2013-12
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