Invoking the self

This article is a worthy one which points out that a lot of researchers are surprised that people act differently in different contexts. That something simple may profoundly affect a person’s responses. In psychodrama this is known as a person’s warm-up being affected.  This is similar but not quite as much fund as Dan Ariely’s experiment and that video is here.

Here is the abstract:

Three randomized experiments found that subtle linguistic cues have the power to increase voting and related behavior. The phrasing of survey items was varied to frame voting either as the enactment of a personal identity (e.g., “being a voter”) or as simply a behavior (e.g., “voting”). As predicted, the personal-identity phrasing significantly increased interest in registering to vote (experiment 1) and, in two statewide elections in the United States,
voter turnout as assessed by official state records (experiments 2 and 3). These results provide evidence that people are continually managing their self-concepts, seeking to assume or affirm valued personal identities. The results further demonstrate how this process can be channeled to motivate important socially relevant behavior.

Part of the Intro:

Why do people vote? Mass voting is essential to a wellfunctioning democracy, yet theorists have often pointed out that, from the standpoint of individual self-interest, voting is irrational (1–3). Just the probability of being killed in a car accident on the way to the polls far outweighs the likelihood that
the average American’s vote will influence the outcome of most elections.

Previous research has shown that people have a strong desire to see themselves as competent, morally appropriate, and worthy of social approval (4–11). They also see voting as appropriate and socially desirable (12, 13). Thus, being the kind of person who votes may be seen as a way to build and maintain a positive image of the self—to claim a desired and socially valued identity. Accordingly, people may be more likely to vote when voting is represented as an expression of self—as symbolic of a person’s fundamental character—rather than as simply a behavior.

We tested this hypothesis in three randomized experiments.

Here is the begining of the conclusion:

This research shows that people’s desire to shape their own identities can be harnessed to motivate behavior. That is, using noun-based wording to frame socially valued future behavior allows individuals, by performing the behavior, to assume the identity of a worthy person.

Although the wording manipulation in these studies was subtle and rigorously controlled, the effects observed in experiments 2 and 3 are among the largest experimental effects ever observed on objectively measured voter turnout.

The whole article may be found by clicking here.