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Political Science in Europe

Issue and Valence Framing Effects in VAAs

Jasper van de Pol
University of Amsterdam
Jasper van de Pol
University of Amsterdam

Despite their effort in being as objective and neutral as possible, builders of Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) have to make several decisions that could affect the ‘voting advice’ users receive after indicating their policy preferences. One of these decisions concern the formulation of statements. In research on survey question formulation, the framing of an issue is demonstrated to affect one’s understanding of, and attitude towards the issue. Another well-documented effect in survey literature is that of valence framing, i.e. whether a question is positively or negatively formulated. Up to now, nothing is known about potential biases these effect introduce in VAAs. During the election campaign for municipality elections in a mid-sized Dutch city, we study the effects of issue and valence framing in a field experiment using an actual and well-known VAA. The findings have important implications as advices by VAAs are demonstrated to have effects on vote choice.
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