Social networks have impact on voter turnout, UC San Diego study shows

UC San Diego political science professor James Fowler, lead author of the report.

Facebook users who saw a message on their account that close friends had voted in the 2010 general election were more likely to turn out to a polling place themselves, according to a study released today by UC San Diego.

The report, published in the journal Nature, involved a message to the news feeds of more than 60 million Facebook users in the U.S. that it was Election Day.

The message included a clickable “I Voted” button, had a link to local polling places, a counter that showed how many Facebook users already had reported voting and up to six profile pictures of a users’ own friends who said they had cast a ballot.

Separately, about 600,000 users received the same message but without the friends notification, and another estimated 600,000 received no message at all.

Using public voting records, researchers found that the message prompted about 60,000 people to vote. They estimated the effect of social networks could have extended the impact by another 280,000 users — causing them to cast ballots.

James Fowler, a professor of political science in the Division of Social Sciences and of Medical Genetics in the School of Medicine, said a democracy needs voters to survive.

“Our study suggests that social influence may be the best way to increase voter turnout,” said Fowler, the lead author of the report. “Just as importantly, we show that what happens online matters a lot for the ‘real world.’”

People in the control groups, the ones who received the message without friend notifications, and the ones who received no message at all, voted at the same rate, according to the study.

“Social influence made all the difference in political mobilization,” Fowler said. “It’s not the ‘I Voted’ button or the lapel sticker we’ve all seen that gets out the vote. It’s the person attached to it.”

The researchers said they did not find any evidence of differences in effects among self-described liberals and conservatives.

—City News Service

Related posts:

  1. UCSD’s new chancellor takes reins, envisions more diverse campus
  2. Qualcomm director donates $4 million for UCSD graduate scholarships
  3. UC San Diego to establish center for Chinese studies
  4. Concrete Education
  5. UCSD among 'coolest' green schools

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=94772

Posted by Pat Sherman on Sep 12, 2012. Filed under La Jolla, News, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Leave no one behind in Alzheimer’s research July 30, 2014
    Today in the U.S., more than 5 million people are living with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. According to a 2009 study by the Alzheimer’s Association, of those 5 million people, more than 500,000 live in California. As we live longer, rates of Alzheimer’s disease have grown dramatically, and the disease is now cited as the third leading cause of death […]
  • SD Foundation announces $47M in grants, names new board members July 29, 2014
    The San Diego Foundation today announced it granted $47 million to nonprofit organizations in fiscal year 2014. Since its inception, the foundation has granted $880 million to serve and improve the San Diego region. […]
  • SD Surf Academy Condliffe GU11 win Albion Cup July 29, 2014
    San Diego Surf Academy Condliffe GU11 won the Albion National Soccer Cup championship, held July 18-21 in San Diego. […]