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Mobilizing Group Membership: The Impact of Personalization and Social Pressure E-mails (WP-13-12)

James Druckman and Donald Green

A randomized experiment was conducted in order to assess the effectiveness of three forms of e-mail appeals to prospective members of a newly formed professional group. The baseline condition consisted of an impersonal appeal—prospective members were sent a mass e-mail encouraging them to join. Participants in the personal condition received an e-mail with the same content, prefaced by a personal note from the group president. Participants in the social pressure condition received a personal note that called attention to the fact that they had previously signed a petition to form the professional group and urged them to make good on their earlier pledge (i.e., signing of the petition). Personalization is found to generate strong and statistically significant treatment effects. Even stronger are the effects of social pressure.

James Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science, and Associate Director and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Donald P. Green, Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

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