- Voting wiser
- The effect of Voting Advice Applications on political understanding
- Award date
- 21 December 2016
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) aim to contribute to understanding of politics. Since VAAs are very popular during election in many democracies, expectations about their contributions to an informed electorate are high. This dissertation contributes to the knowledge about VAAs by looking at the profile of VAA users and their motivations for using the VAA, by studying how VAAs affect opinions people have about issues, and by studying the contribution VAAs make to political efficacy and knowledge. There are four main conclusions: First, VAA users are more diverse than earlier research suggested. Across all elections in the Netherlands, three different types of VAA users were distinguished. These types have different levels of political engagement and different purposes to use VAAs. Towards the end of election campaigns, and in second-order elections generally, VAAs are used more often by people who want to learn about politics and who want help deciding how to vote. Second, people are more inclined to report a leftwing opinion if the statement they are reacting to is framed in a left-wing direction. This effect is modest, but has important implications. Third, there is no evidence for a contribution of VAAs to political knowledge. Fourth, VAAs do make people feel better informed and more capable of making political decisions, and this effect is stronger among those who are less interested in politics. VAAs hence contribute to closing the gap in political engagement, and if they want to contribute to political engagement and participation, they should target politically less interested citizens.
Thesis (Embargo up to and including 21 December 2018)
4. Pushing the voting advice left or right: Identifying framing effects in a field experiment (Embargo up to and including 21 December 2018)
5. The effect of VAAs on political efficacy and knowledge: A quasi-experiment (Embargo up to and including 21 December 2018)
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