Voting to Tell Others

Last registered on December 14, 2016


Trial Information

General Information

Voting to Tell Others
Initial registration date
December 14, 2016

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
December 14, 2016, 11:32 AM EST

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

Last updated
December 14, 2016, 12:01 PM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


Primary Investigator

UC Berkeley

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
University of California, Berkeley
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Why do people vote? We design a field experiment to estimate a model of voting 'because others will ask'. The expectation of being asked motivates turnout if individuals derive pride from telling others that they voted, or feel shame from admitting that they did not vote, provided that lying is costly. In a door-to-door survey about election turnout, we experimentally vary (i) the informational content and use of a flyer pre-announcing the survey, (ii) the duration and payment for the survey, and (iii) the incentives to lie about past voting. The experimental results indicate significant social image concerns. For the 2010 Congressional election, we estimate a value of voting 'to tell others' of about $15, contributing 2 percentage points to turnout. Lastly, we evaluate a get-out-the-vote intervention in which we tell potential voters that we will ask if they voted.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

DellaVigna, Stefano et al. 2016. "Voting to Tell Others." AEA RCT Registry. December 14.
Former Citation
DellaVigna, Stefano et al. 2016. "Voting to Tell Others." AEA RCT Registry. December 14.
Experimental Details


The experiment is a combination of four crossed interventions: (i) flyer treatments, (ii) payment and duration of the survey, (iii) survey content announcement at the door, and (iv) incentives to claim non-voter status. One of five different flyers were left at each house, informing the household about the next day's survey: No Flyer, Survey Flyer, Election Flyer, Opt-Out Flyer, and Election Opt-Out Flyer. Survey flyers simply stated the household would be asked to complete a survey. Election flyers specified that the survey would be about 'your voter participation in the 2010 congressional election." Households in the Opt-Out Flyer treatment receive a flyer as in the Survey Flyer treatment, except for an added check-box which the household can mark if it does not wish to be disturbed. Similarly, the flyer in the Election Opt-Out Flyer treatment has an added opt-out check box.

Second, payment ($5 or $10) and the time necessary (5 or 10 minutes) for the survey were randomly varied and pre-announced on flyers. Lastly, half the respondents of the ten-minute survey were informed that the survey would be eight minutes shorter if they stated that they did not vote in the 2010 congressional election. For voters, this treatment amounts to an incentive to lie and permits us to quantify the disutility of voters were they to say (untruthfully) that they did not vote. For the 50 percent of non-voters who lie without such incentives, this treatment provides an incentive to tell the truth.

In a secondary experiment, in the five days before the election date, researchers posted a flyer on the doorknob of households informing them that 'researchers will contact you within three weeks of the election [...] to conduct a survey on your voter participation.'
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
opening the door, survey completion, lying about voting, voter behavior
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In this paper, researchers estimate a model of voting 'to tell others' by using an experiment which randomized flyers and surveys about voting behaviors. The field experiment had three main sets of treatments: 1) randomization of information on the flyer, 2) randomized and pre-announced payment for and length of the survey, and 3) randomized incentives meant to evoke different responses to a question about voter turnout.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Every half-hour, the surveyor moves to a different street in the neighborhood and begins a new route of 13 homes, typically entering a different treatment in the next route.
Randomization Unit
Route (group of 13 houses)
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
On a single work day, each surveyor was assigned 8 routes. Work days were Saturdays and Sundays from July - November 2011.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Flyer and survey experiment: 14,475 households Get out the vote experiment: 125,111 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Please refer to Figure 3 of DellaVigna, List, & Malmendier (2016) for a breakdown of sample sizes by treatment arm.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Social & Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board, University of Chicago
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
Details not available


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
November 06, 2012, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
November 06, 2012, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
13,197 houesholds
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Please refer to Figure 3 of DellaVigna, List, & Malmendier (2016) for a breakdown of sample sizes by treatment arm.
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Voting to Tell Others - Review of Economic Studies, forthcoming.
Della Vigna, Stefano, John List, Ulrike Malmendier, and Gautam Rao. "Voting to Tell Others." Review of Economic Studies. Forthcoming.

Reports & Other Materials