FacebookTwitterRSS

Social media can persuade how you vote

September 20, 2012

 

Parents and teachers often mention drugs, alcohol and sex when they talk about peer pressure, but few have mentioned anything about voting in such lectures—until now.

 

Scientists and researchers at the University of California-San Diego recently released the findings of an online experiment they conducted on Election Day in 2010 which used the psychology of peer pressure to encourage citizens to vote through Facebook.

 

According to an article published by the Associated Press, researchers said nearly every American who listed themselves to be of voting age on Facebook was part of the study.

 

The research team sent three types of messages out to be seen by users after logging in.

 

Nearly 98 percent of 60 million users saw a banner that read “I Voted” next to six pictures of the user’s friends who had also seen the message and indicated whether or not they had voted.

 

Control groups of approximately 600,000 users each either saw a simple announcement without pictures of their friends or no message at all.

 

Researchers calculated the message that identified friends who had voted reportedly generated 280,000 voters, while the message itself increased turnout by 60,000 voters.

 

Looking at the numbers in relation to the entire country, the study seems useless and irrelevant; however, the 340,000 votes are enough to swing an election, begging the greater question of whether or not peer pressure to vote is a good thing.
It is important for citizens to head to the polling stations, but an uneducated vote is just as tantamount as no vote at all.
The study shows people are more likely to vote if they see that their friends have voted; however, there was no way for them to determine whether or not the voter knew anything about each of the candidates’ platforms.
American voting tradition has proven there will always be those who vote without any prior knowledge of points of debate or even who is on the ballot.
If we could trust that all Americans have been keeping up with this election season, this study would be nothing but good news.

 

The reality of the situation, however, is there is a large fraction of voters who do not keep up with elections and choose a candidate to follow suit with family and friends.

 

This could be just as dangerous as not voting at all because the winner of the election would be falsely representing those who elected him or her.

 

The involvement of social media could add a new and even dangerous element in group thinking to the voting tradition if messages such as these do not come with links to other sources of information for voters to view.
We should vote because we care about our interests and not be afraid to defend them.

 

Facebook can be a useful tool when it comes to spreading the word, but we need to use it to encourage an educated vote, not just a vote.

 

Parents and teachers often mention drugs, alcohol and sex when they talk about peer pressure, but few have mentioned anything about voting in such lectures—until now.

 

Scientists and researchers at the University of California-San Diego recently released the findings of an online experiment they conducted on Election Day in 2010 which used the psychology of peer pressure to encourage citizens to vote through Facebook.

 

According to an article published by the Associated Press, researchers said nearly every American who listed themselves to be of voting age on Facebook was part of the study.

 

The research team sent three types of messages out to be seen by users after logging in.

 

Nearly 98 percent of 60 million users saw a banner that read “I Voted” next to six pictures of the user’s friends who had also seen the message and indicated whether or not they had voted.

 

Control groups of approximately 600,000 users each either saw a simple announcement without pictures of their friends or no message at all.

 

Researchers calculated the message that identified friends who had voted reportedly generated 280,000 voters, while the message itself increased turnout by 60,000 voters.

 

Looking at the numbers in relation to the entire country, the study seems useless and irrelevant; however, the 340,000 votes are enough to swing an election, begging the greater question of whether or not peer pressure to vote is a good thing.

 

It is important for citizens to head to the polling stations, but an uneducated vote is just as tantamount as no vote at all.

 

The study shows people are more likely to vote if they see that their friends have voted; however, there was no way for them to determine whether or not the voter knew anything about each of the candidates’ platforms.

 

American voting tradition has proven there will always be those who vote without any prior knowledge of points of debate or even who is on the ballot.

 

If we could trust that all Americans have been keeping up with this election season, this study would be nothing but good news.

 

The reality of the situation, however, is there is a large fraction of voters who do not keep up with elections and choose a candidate to follow suit with family and friends.

 

This could be just as dangerous as not voting at all because the winner of the election would be falsely representing those who elected him or her.

 

The involvement of social media could add a new and even dangerous element in group thinking to the voting tradition if messages such as these do not come with links to other sources of information for voters to view.

 

We should vote because we care about our interests and not be afraid to defend them.

 

Facebook can be a useful tool when it comes to spreading the word, but we need to use it to encourage an educated vote, not just a vote.

 

 

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *