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Research on persuasion and social influence suggests that crafting effective persuasive and influential appeals is not only feasible but can be done fairly reliably with appropriate guidance from the relevant theories. With the advent of large-scale experiments conducted in field settings, key propositions about persuasion and social influence can be evaluated on a grand scale. In this chapter we assess whether well-known psychological insights work in practice, reviewing efforts related to political mobilisation and persuasion. We argue that in many cases field tests generate an estimated effect that is much smaller than highly influential psychological studies might lead us to expect. The implications of large-scale testing are profound, not only because of the guidance they offer for political campaigns, but also because of their implications for prominent psychological theories.
Experimental political science has transformed in the last decade. The use of experiments has dramatically increased throughout the discipline, and technological and sociological changes have altered how political scientists use experiments. We chart the transformation of experiments and discuss new challenges that experimentalists face. We then outline how the contributions to this volume will help scholars and practitioners conduct high-quality experiments.
Experimental political science has changed. In two short decades, it evolved from an emergent method to an accepted method to a primary method. The challenge now is to ensure that experimentalists design sound studies and implement them in ways that illuminate cause and effect. Ethical boundaries must also be respected, results interpreted in a transparent manner, and data and research materials must be shared to ensure others can build on what has been learned. This book explores the application of new designs; the introduction of novel data sources, measurement approaches, and statistical methods; the use of experiments in more substantive domains; and discipline-wide discussions about the robustness, generalizability, and ethics of experiments in political science. By exploring these novel opportunities while also highlighting the concomitant challenges, this volume enables scholars and practitioners to conduct high-quality experiments that will make key contributions to knowledge.