Should we conduct correspondence study field experiments with political elites?

  • Correspondence study field experiments with political elites are a recent addition to legislative studies research, in which unsolicited emails are sent to elites to gauge their responsiveness. In this article, we discuss their ethical implications. We advance from the viewpoint that correspondence study field experiments involve trade-offs between costs and benefits that need to be carefully weighted. We elaborate this argument with two contributions in mind. First, we synthesize ethical considerations in published work to explore what the specific trade-offs are and how they can be mitigated by experimental design. We conclude that correspondence study field experiments with political elites are worth pursuing given their potential to further good governance. But they also involve distinct trade-offs that are particularly challenging. Second, we draw from our own considerations while designing a comparative correspondence study field experiment and stress challenges resulting from cross-national designs. In sum, we aim to facilitate further reasoned discussion on an important methodological issue.

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Author:Thomas Zittel, Tom Louwerse, Helene Helboe Pedersen, Wouter Schakel
Parent Title (English):International political science review
Place of publication:Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/07/15
Date of first Publication:2021/07/15
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2022/03/01
Tag:Field experiments; legislative studies; legislators; political representation; research ethics
Issue:online version before inclusion in an issue
Page Number:12
First Page:1
Last Page:12
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Grant Number: ZI 608/8-1) and the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk (Grant Number: 464.18.108).
Early View: Online Version before inclusion in an issue.
Institutes:Gesellschaftswissenschaften / Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 32 Politikwissenschaft / 320 Politikwissenschaft
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0