Turned on or turned out? Campaign advertising, information and voting

Daniel Houser, Rebecca Morton, Thomas Stratmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present results from laboratory experimental elections in which voter information is endogenously provided by candidates and voting is voluntary. We also compare advertisements that are costless to voters with those that reduce voter payoffs. We find that informative advertisements increase voter participation and thus informative campaign advertising turns out voters. However, the effect of information is less than that found in previous experimental studies where information is exogenously provided by the experimenter. Furthermore, we find that when advertising by winning candidates reduces voter payoffs, informed voters are less likely to participate, thus are turned off rather than turned out. Finally, we discover that candidates tend to overadvertise, and contrary to theoretical predictions, advertise significantly more when voting is voluntary than when it is compulsory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-727
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Economy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Abstention
  • Campaign finance
  • Elections
  • Turnout

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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