Are Voters Rational? Information, Identity, and Voting Amongst the Baoulé and Dioula

Last registered on March 30, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Are Voters Rational? Information, Identity, and Voting Amongst the Baoulé and Dioula
Initial registration date
March 27, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
March 30, 2023, 3:39 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Bucknell University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Are voters rational? Since Kahneman and Tversky's original analysis indicating that people are vulnerable to framing effects, claims have been made that people are not rational. This includes voters. In many ways, voters have been shown to be vulnerable to framing and other effects which many candidates have used to their political advantage. If voters are not rational then this poses numerous problems for elections and democracy more generally. Moreover, if voters are not rational then relying on public opinion for policymakers is problematic because opinions could be easily swayed depending on the way questions are posed. Are voters rational? This paper studies this question developing a simple test. In a simple two candidate set-up with no information voters should prefer the candidate they most closely identify with but with additional information about the candidate’s policy positions then voters should choose the candidate they most closely identify with ideologically. In this study, we examine these expectations in an African context focusing on the role of ethnicity and voting. We examine the effect of information on voting decisions amongst west African respondents. We focus on two major ethnic groups in Côte d’Ivoire, specifically the Baoulé, an Akan group that has ruled the country for much of its time since independence, and the Dioula, a northern Mande group that has recently secured national power. The two groups have had contentious and conflictual political relations over the last twenty or so years. In a simple two candidate race, amongst Baoulé respondents we would expect that if shown just a picture and name that they will choose the Baoulé candidate over the Dioula candidate. However, if we add ideological information and make the Dioula candidate relatively preferable to the average voter (socially conservative, economically liberal) then if Baoulé voters are rational they should prefer the Dioula candidate over their co-ethnic. The same is true for Dioula respondents who should prefer the Dioula candidate in the low-information environment but the relatively conservative Baoulé candidate in the high information environment. If voters are not rational then they will vote for their co-ethnic in both low and high information environments. We test these claims in a series of field experiments in Yamoussoukro, a Baoulé stronghold, and in Abobo a Dioula stronghold.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Doces, John. 2023. "Are Voters Rational? Information, Identity, and Voting Amongst the Baoulé and Dioula ." AEA RCT Registry. March 30.
Experimental Details


There are two interventions. One is a picture and name of two candidates each from two different ethnic groups. The second intervention is the names and pictures with ideological information about each candidate's political positions.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Vote choice and rating of each candidate
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This is a field experiment with two versions of a survey. Respondents will be randomly assigned a low information survey (only candidate picture and name) versus a high information survey (candidate picture, name, and ideological position).
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done using a computer in the office. Assignment will then be ordered for each enumerator.
Randomization Unit
Randomization will be at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
There will be two clusters.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Total observations will be 720
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
There will be four treatment arms with 180 observations per arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials


Document Name
Document Type
Document Description
Statement of hypotheses.

MD5: e64fd76b910e47d28ad5cf98e966523c

SHA1: 53dd46c72628463718c95f67b165eb2c6b4f1b7e

Uploaded At: March 27, 2023


Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Bucknell University Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials