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Status Quo Bias in Ballot Wording

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 November 2017

Michael Barber
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84604, USA, e-mail: mailto:barber@byu.edu
David Gordon
Affiliation:
Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, Austin, TX 78705, USA, e-mail: Twitter Handle: @Dave_Gordon5176
Ryan Hill
Affiliation:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA, e-mail: ryanhill@mit.edu Twitter Handle: @RyanReedHill
Joseph Price
Affiliation:
Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84604, USA, e-mail: joseph_price@byu.edu

Abstract

We examine the role of status quo bias in the ballot wording of social issues that affect the rights of minority groups. We test the salience of this framing bias by conducting an experiment that randomly assigns different ballot wordings for five policies across survey respondents. We find that status quo bias changes the percent of individuals who vote for the ballot measure by 5–8 percentage points with the least informed individuals being the most affected by status quo bias.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Experimental Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2017 

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