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Pre-Analysis plan: What messages encourage political participation in young South Africans?
Last registered on September 18, 2015

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Pre-Analysis plan: What messages encourage political participation in young South Africans?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000845
Initial registration date
September 18, 2015
Last updated
September 18, 2015 4:15 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Oxford
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PI Affiliation
University of California Los Angeles
PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2015-07-20
End date
2016-11-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
What messages work best to encourage political participation among un-represented and low-participating groups in developing democracies? This study examines the impact of providing young, urban South Africans who are not registered to vote with different types of motivational messages encouraging them to register and vote. Using a randomized controlled trial (RCT), we test whether providing a carefully piloted, clearly expressed motivation for why citizens should vote, delivered face-to-face, will improve registration and voting.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Berinsky, Adam et al. 2015. "Pre-Analysis plan: What messages encourage political participation in young South Africans?." AEA RCT Registry. September 18. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.845-1.0.
Former Citation
Berinsky, Adam et al. 2015. "Pre-Analysis plan: What messages encourage political participation in young South Africans?." AEA RCT Registry. September 18. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/845/history/5318.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Once recruited and consented into the study, participants completed a brief electronic pre-survey with an enumerator to gather demographics and a baseline for their intention to register and vote in the forthcoming 2016 election.

Subjects were then randomly assigned to one of eight conditions (the seven messages or a control, which received no message). Respondents received the message read out face-to-face by enumerators. All messages were delivered in English and the consent and survey process were conducted in English. Given that our sample is from urban Gauteng, levels of English proficiency are high.

These messages were crafted from theories of political participation. In addition, we conducted eight focus groups in May 2015 in the study area with both registered and unregistered voters aged 18-30. We discussed whether participants think voting is important, their reasons for (not) registering and voting, where they get information from, and who or what influences their decisions. Many of the phrases in the messages, such as politics being ‘an old person’s game’, every vote ‘being counted’, the youth ‘jobs crisis’, or non-voters ‘letting their community down’, were drawn from these focus groups. We also asked focus group participants to recommend adaptations to messages to make them more appealing to young people.

The different messages focused on one's obligation to vote (as a citizen, as a young person, or stemming from South Africa's history), on the idea that every vote counts, on the fact that young people are underrepresented in parliament, on the idea that voting may force politicians to pay more attention to issues which affect young people, and on the idea that one's community will know if one does not vote.
Intervention Start Date
2015-07-20
Intervention End Date
2015-09-04
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Intention to register to vote, intention to vote, intention to obtain information about registering and voting, partisanship, intention to register and vote among others like you, whether the respondent would vote for the ANC, compared to voting for an opposition party or not voting, whether the respondent believes ‘Opposition parties should regularly examine and criticize government policies and actions’, preference for democracy over other forms of government, overall satisfaction with democracy, index of satisfaction with municipal performance, political efficacy index, importance of accountability index, belief that voting matters index, agreement that voting is a duty, strength of identification with being a young person
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
See pre-analysis plan
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Once recruited and consented into the study, participants completed a brief electronic pre-survey with an enumerator to gather demographics and a baseline for their intention to register and vote in the forthcoming 2016 election. Subjects were then randomly assigned to one of eight conditions (the seven messages or a control, which received no message).
Experimental Design Details
See pre-analysis plan
Randomization Method
Randomisation of individuals to eight treatment arms using surveyCTO software on tablets at the lab-in-the-field site
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
The treatment is randomised at individual level, not at cluster level. We treated individuals at 23 sites.
Sample size: planned number of observations
3,200
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
400
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We calculate the minimum detectable effect size (MDES) in standard deviations for an individual-level trial(voting district) with power = 0.8, alpha = 0.05, covariate R2 = 0.5. We calculate MDES for 3,200 subjects, divided into eight arms. For marginal effects, such as message 1 vs the control, the MDES is 0.14. For our main outcome, registration rates, we assume a baseline registration rate in the control of 50% (before registration drives for the 2014 election in Gauteng, 48% of young voters were registered), so the standard deviation is ~0.5. For marginal effects on registration, we can thus detect changes of ~7.00 percentage points. For a comparison of all treatments to the control, the MDES is 0.1058, so we can detect changes of ~5.29 percentage points. For interactions with marginal effects (e.g. message 1 vs the control by gender), the MDE is 9.9 percentage points. For interactions with marginal effects (e.g. all messages vs the control by gender), the MDE is 7.5 percentage points.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
MIT Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2015-05-29
IRB Approval Number
1505697205
IRB Name
University of Cambridge Department of Politics and International Studies
IRB Approval Date
2015-07-06
IRB Approval Number
N/A
IRB Name
UCLA Office of the Human Research Protection Program
IRB Approval Date
2015-07-10
IRB Approval Number
15­000811
IRB Name
University of Cape Town Commerce Faculty Ethics in Research Committee
IRB Approval Date
2015-07-15
IRB Approval Number
70-2015
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
PAP

MD5: 0f34b3fbe13ddebd8457d82076160f05

SHA1: f10d625cbde8e6eb03fb753778e8a73f1167d48c

Uploaded At: September 18, 2015

Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers