Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 12 > Issue 4

Reducing or Reinforcing In-Group Preferences? An Experiment on Information and Ethnic Voting

Claire Adida, University of California, San Diego, USA, cadida@ucsd.edu , Jessica Gottlieb, Texas A&M University, USA, jgottlieb@tamu.edu , Eric Kramon, George Washington University, USA, ekramon@gwu.edu , Gwyneth McClendon, New York University, USA, gwyneth.mcclendon@nyu.edu
Suggested Citation
Claire Adida, Jessica Gottlieb, Eric Kramon and Gwyneth McClendon (2017), "Reducing or Reinforcing In-Group Preferences? An Experiment on Information and Ethnic Voting", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 12: No. 4, pp 437-477. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00017018

Publication Date: 07 Dec 2017
© 2017 C. Adida, J. Gottlieb, E. Kramon and G. McClendon
Elections,  Legislatures,  Comparative political economy,  Comparative politics,  Democracy,  Democratization,  Electoral behavior,  Electoral institutions,  Government,  Parliamentary politics,  Political economy,  Political participation,  Political psychology
ElectionsVoting behaviorEthnicityAfrican politicsMotivated reasoning


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In this article:
Ethnicity, Information, and Voting 
Empirical Strategy 
Does Ethnicity Condition the Impact of Information? 
Why Does Ethnicity Condition the Impact of Information? 


Social scientists often characterize identity politics as a threat to democracy and growth, and recent scholarship investigates factors that could exacerbate or alleviate it. A dominant view — that shared social identity acts as a heuristic in low-information contexts — implies that information access could reduce social identity voting. But this view contrasts with evidence that identity often conditions information processing, potentially in ways that amplify in-group preferences. We test these expectations with a field experiment around Benin's 2015 legislative elections. Behavioral and attitudinal data reveal that voters reward good-performing incumbents only if they are coethnics, and punish bad performers only if they are noncoethnics. Coethnics are also more (less) likely to accurately recall performance information if it is positive (negative). These results are consistent with a theory of motivated reasoning whereby voters act on new information only when it allows them to reaffirm their social identity. These findings improve our understanding of comparative ethnic politics, identity and information processing, and information and accountability.