Social secrecy and voter behavior

Last registered on March 10, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Social secrecy and voter behavior
Initial registration date
March 09, 2022

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 10, 2022, 9:01 PM EST

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



Primary Investigator

Lund University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Social secrecy refers to voters’ beliefs as to whether they will reveal their vote choice to anyone (be it friends, family, or strangers). Despite the fact that social secrecy theoretically alters the costs associated with certain vote choices, few studies have directed attention toward how social secrecy (or a lack thereof) influences voter behavior. In this study, I conduct an RCT that aims to induce induce experimental variation in social secrecy. I then leverage this variation how social secrecy impacts voter behavior.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Agneman, Gustav. 2022. "Social secrecy and voter behavior." AEA RCT Registry. March 10.
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Experimental Details


The RCT consists of a baseline survey that measures, among other things, the social secrecy among respondents. I randomly divide respondents into three groups: one group receives two text messages that remind respondents that they can keep their vote secret; another group receives three texts that remind them that they can keep their votes secret and that doing so means that their vote is completely anonymous; a third group which does not receive any texts and thus functions as the control group.

The timing of the intervention is as follows:

March 1. Both group 1 and group 2 receive a text that reads: “For the upcoming parliamentary elections, we would like to remind you that you have the right to cast your vote in private. You do not have to share your voting choices with anyone.”

March 4. Group 2 receives a text that reads: “If you do not tell anyone which party you will vote for or have voted for, no one can find out.”

March 9. Both group 1 and group 2 receive a text that reads: “Even if someone asks you, you do not need to reveal who you vote for. Your vote is your business.”
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcomes of interests are social secrecy, institutional secrecy, (perceived) voter secrecy, and voter choice (both the actual vote choice and the motivation, captured through the following questions: "When deciding how to vote, to what extent do you take into account what other people might think about your vote choice?"; "Please describe in 1-3 sentences why you chose to vote the way you did.").
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
* Social secrecy is measured as the answer to the question: "During the last elections, did you discuss with friends or relatives which party you intended to vote/voted for?"

* Institutional secrecy is captured by the following question: "Do you believe that it is possible for representatives of the parties to see who you vote for?"

* Perceived voter secrecy is defined as responses to the following question: "How likely is it that others can find out who you vote for?"

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Voter participation could also potentially be impacted by social secrecy. Another outcome of potential interest is whether respondents experienced vote-buying attempts and, if so, how they dealt with it. I measure this both using List Experiments and a direct survey question.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The study builds on a simple combination of a baseline survey, intervention, and an endline survey. Parliamentary elections are held in-between the intervention and the endline survey. Accordingly, the questions on voting behavior in the endline survey will regard voter behavior during a real election. The endline survey will be conducted between March 14th and March 21st.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
I use the Randomizr package in R to assign respondents into treatment groups.
Randomization Unit
The treatments were individual and respondents were assigned into groups using block-randomization (which ensured that treatment and control groups were equally large within each municipality).
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
No clusters (individual randomizations).
Sample size: planned number of observations
The number of respondents is expected to be in the range of 600-650.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
The treatment arms are roughly equally large (~ 230 in each arm). The response rate for the endline survey is not going to be 100 percent and, hence, the final number of observations will be lower.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Given the sample sizes and the responses to the variable that captures social secrecy in the baseline survey (5-point likert-scale, mean=1.819, s.d.=1.448), a comparison of means between treatment arms would be able to detect an effect size of 0.38 or larger. The needed effect size will be even smaller when leveraging the data in both the baseline and the endline survey (through diff-in-diff specifications) and when pooling observations in the two treatment arms that were exposed to the text messages.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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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