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Labels vs. Pictures: Treatment-Mode Effects in Experiments About Discrimination

  • Marisa A. Abrajano (a1), Christopher S. Elmendorf (a2) and Kevin M. Quinn (a3)


Does treatment mode matter in studies of the effects of candidate race or ethnicity on voting decisions? The assumption implicit in most such work is that such treatment mode differences are either small and/or theoretically well understood, so that the choice of how to signal the race of a candidate is largely one of convenience. But this assumption remains untested. Using a nationally representative sample of white voting-age citizens and a modified conjoint design, we evaluate whether signaling candidate ethnicity with ethnic labels and names results in different effects than signaling candidate ethnicity with ethnically identifiable photos and names. Our results provide strong evidence that treatment-mode effects are substantively large and statistically significant. Further, these treatment-mode effects are not consistent with extant theoretical accounts. These results highlight the need for additional theoretical and empirical work on race/ethnicity treatment-mode effects.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

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Authors’ note: We gratefully acknowledge support from Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences (TESS) and the National Science Foundation (grant SES 16-59922). In addition, earlier versions of this paper benefited from comments from Ryan Enos, Don Green, Taeku Lee, Efren Perez, Nazita Lajevardi, Tyler Reny, and workshop participants at the USC Gould School of Law and the University of Michigan Political Science Department. Replication data and code can be found at

Contributing Editor: Jonathan N. Katz



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Abrajano, Marisa, Christopher, Elmendorf, and Kevin, Quinn. 2017. Replication Data for: Labels vs. pictures: Treatment-mode effects in experiments about discrimination. doi:10.7910/DVN/DFEH8S, Harvard Dataverse, V1, UNF:6:abrrhxR2xkGTYmtBg5vQGw==.
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