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Citizens and Governments on the Internet

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Citizens and Governments on the Internet

  1. 1. Citizens and Governments on the Internet: Experimenting with information effects Helen Margetts www.governmentontheweb.org
  2. 2. How do information environments on the internet affect political behaviour?  Information seeking  What people find (how government and political organizations present themselves)  ‘Social information’  Feedback, co-production, co-creation  Social networks, peer-to-peer interactions, chain reactions  Differential demographics, personalities, access, skills 
  3. 3. How can we investigate information effects?  Experimental approach  Varying information across control and treatment groups  Random allocation  Possibility of causal inference (internal validity) Design variations  Laboratory experiments (eg. Grimmelikhuijsen, 2010)  Field experiments (eg. Gerber and Green, 2008; Goldstein,2008; Schultz, 1998)  Internet blurs field/laboratory distinction  laboratory in field, field in laboratory  To become ‘virtual laboratory’ (see Salganik et al, 2006, 2009)
  4. 4. Collective Action on the Internet Social information and political participation
  5. 5. Effect of social information: hypotheses  High numbers of signatories could have:  Negative effect (can free-ride, Olson)  Positive effect (critical mass, bandwagon effect)  Low numbers of signatories could have:  Negative effect (hopeless cause)  Positive effect (make a difference, Olson) 
  6. 6. Relationship between participation and expected participation according to Schelling (2006: 104)
  7. 7. Experimental Design Quasi-field Experiment 668 subjects from OxLab Participating remotely via custom-built interface Paid £6-8 6 petitions on global issues Control: no social information Randomized treatments with ‘high’, ‘low’, ‘middle’ nos. of signatories
  8. 8. Subjects Signing Petitions (by number of other signatories) P1: Human Rights in Tibet P2: Cluster Bomb Treatment: number of other signatories P3: End Whaling P4: Protect Darfur Low Medium High P5: Climate Change P6: Fair Trade
  9. 9. Subjects Donating to Petitions (by number of other signatories) P1: Human Rights in Tibet P2: Cluster Bomb Treatment: number of other signatories P3: End Whaling P4: Protect Darfur Low Medium High P5: Climate Change P6: Fair Trade
  10. 10. Citizen-government interactions Information Effects on Citizens’ Propensity to Seek Redress
  11. 11. When do citizens seek redress?  H1: Documentary evidence  H2: Social information: what other people are doing  H3: According to their personality (locus of control)  H4: Nature of the issue  H5: Ease or difficulty in locating information on how to complain
  12. 12. Experimental Design  7 scenarios, involving tax, police, benefits, social care, healthcare, private sector comparator  Subjects seek information on how to complain – then asked if they will complain  Control group: no additional information  Documentary evidence treatment  Social information treatment (real time feedback)  Pre-experiment questionnaire – agreement with issue  Post-experiment questionnaire, including personality questions
  13. 13. Analysis of variance shows that severity of issue is highly related to likelihood of complaining (p<<0.001)

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