Brief 49: Information Technology and Political Engagement in Uganda

  1. In the framed field experiment the authors contacted around 7,500 randomly-sampled individuals, but in the scaled-up version the authors advertised the program over the radio to over 1/3 of the country. Did the scale of the second program alter its effect by inducing collective action problems that were not present in our earlier study?
  2. In the framed field experiment, the authors clearly signaled to the participants that a research team was carrying out a study and would deliver their messages to MPs. In the natural field experiment, constituents were exposed to a project run by NDI and the Parliament of Uganda. Did the change of partners alter the expectations of would-be participants?
  3. The authors also considered that two key features of the newer design might have led to differential uptake.
    • The mode of treatment delivery may have induced a treatment compliance effect. If Ugandans were less likely to internalize appeals delivered via radio than those delivered in person, then this effect could explain low uptake in the national experiment but not the pilot.
    • Related, the mode of treatment delivery may have had different effects on different types of subjects. Invitation effects may have been more powerful for marginalized individuals, who felt empowered in receiving an individual invitation to contact their MP in the framed experiment.