Combining experimental and survey data to understand political participation. An examination of potential bias.

GT 4.4 Actitudes y comportamiento político: aspectos metodológicos

Gema M. García Albacete (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

Behavioral questions in survey research do not control the context in which participation takes place while economic lab experiments pose questions regarding their external validity. Our study ``Political participation, norms of citizenship, and heterogeneous motivation: Experimental and survey evidence'' combines both methodologies in order to test specific hypothesis regarding citizens' political involvement. Political behavior research usually relies in survey questions measuring past behavior. This makes it difficult to address theoretical expectations regarding the effect of the specific context and the role of individuals' motivations. Therefore we designed an economic experiment that permitted to control the environment and induce participants' motivations. Other main independent variables were measured by a reduced version of the European Social Survey. The results of our mixed methods research design show that it is a useful strategy to test complex theories. Beyond the satisfactory results of this exercise, the combination of survey and laboratory data offers interesting insights for a follow up methodological investigation regarding the external validity of laboratory experiments in political participation research. To do so the second experiment series, which we are currently conducting, examines the potential bias between the two instruments and therefore will allow drawing conclusions regarding the most adequate strategy to integrate this combination of methods in further research. Our contribution in this colloquium will present the first results of this second exercise.