Field Experiments and the Study of Political Behavior

Tiffany C. Davenport, Alan S. Gerber and Donald P. Green

in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199235476
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Field Experiments and the Study of Political Behavior

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  • Politics
  • US Politics
  • Political Behaviour



This article presents an overview of field experiments and their contribution to the study of political behavior. First, it briefly outlines the history of field experimentation in political science and neighboring disciplines. It then summarizes a series of important and interrelated research literatures, exploring the influences of political campaigns, political communication, and political socialization. The review shows that the advent of field experimentation represents a significant departure from what had been a field dominated by survey and lab research. Furthermore, the ways in which field experimental studies shaped the research in political behavior are addressed. Field experimental studies have brought a new level of precision to the study of campaign communication. The principal argument for observational research is that it enables scholars to study a broad class of causal questions, not just those that are amenable to experimental manipulation.

Keywords: political behavior; field experiments; political campaigns; political communication; political socialization; campaign communication

Article.  8482 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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