Northwestern University

Fri 12:00 PM

American Politics Workshop

When: Friday, January 19, 2018
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM  

Where: Scott Hall, Room 201, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: John Mocek   847.491.5364

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Justin Grimmer
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

"The Effect of Identifying Constituents on Representative-Constituent Communication"

Social media sites present an opportunity to connect constituents with elected officials, but platforms rarely provide crucial information for elected officials to identify constituents or allow constituents to credibly identify themselves. We present the results of a large social media experiment where we provided users the opportunity to credibly identify as a constituent when commenting on elected officials’ posts by enabling a “constituent badge”. The opportunity to adorn a message from a constituent with a badge has no detectable effect on how elected officials interact with messages from constituents, even though elected officials regularly report they would be more responsive to messages from constituents. And this null result is unlikely to be because elected officials failed to understand the intervention: we present non-experimental evidence that elected officials exert more effort when they respond to comments with a badge. When users have access to the badge, however, it affects how they interact with elected officials. The badge causes individuals to write higher quality comments that are more focused on politics and less deferential to the elected official’s original post. And the badges deepen participation among a group of users who are otherwise less likely to participate. Our results demonstrate how the mere opportunity to formally adopt a role can alter behavior.

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