Voting Engagement Tools as political decision aids. Effects on political literacy and political attitudes
09 / 2012 - 08 / 2016
Voting Engagement Tools (VETs) have become a central feature of today's politics. They are used by almost half of the electorate prior to elections. Our current knowledge about the uses and effects of these tools, however, is limited. Research suggests VETs affect the intention to cast a vote at all, and can affect what people vote. It is far from clear, however, which types of citizens are affected by VETs, and to what extent their political attitudes and intentions are based on political literacy, on an increased understanding of the political landscape. In addition, insight is needed into the extent to which form and content features of VETs affect citizens' political understanding, political attitudes, and decision-making. Our research team consists of experts from two universities, bringing together expertise from political science and communication science (Amsterdam University) with linguistics, document design and survey methodology (Utrecht University). By cooperating with a leading VET organization (KiesKompas), a city council (gemeente Utrecht) and the National Council for Government Policy (WRR), this project brings together different stakeholders of VETs and a wide range of expertise and experience concerning VETs, elections and thinking about our democracy, which will will produce new theorizing as well as 'science for policy making'. The research project is tailored to the NWO 'Begrijpelijke Taal'-program in its focus on how text (form and content) and reader characteristics interact, and how (political) understanding is related to attitudes and intentions, situated in a research context with high societal impact.