How social pressure affects political participation: experiments with e-petitions

Helen Margetts, Peter John, Tobias Escher, Stéphane Reissfelder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper tests the hypothesis that social information provided by the internet makes it possible in large groups to exert social influence that Olson considered viable only for smaller groups. In two experiments - laboratory and field - subjects could choose to sign petitions and donate money to support causes. Participants were randomised into treatment groups that received varying information about how many other people had participated and control groups receiving no social information. Results suggest that social information has a varying effect according to the numbers provided, strongest when there are more than a million other participants, lending support to the social information hypothesis and to claims about critical mass and tipping points in political participation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical Studies Association Annual Conference, 7-9 April 2009, University of Manchester
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2009
EventEuropean Consortium of Political Research - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 10 Sept 200916 Oct 2009


ConferenceEuropean Consortium of Political Research
CityBerlin, Germany


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