Who is this guide for?
The Science of Influence is intended for Democratic political campaigns and progressive grassroots groups who want to make their communications and outreach strategies more effective: whether at messaging, turnout, persuasion, volunteer mobilization, or other aspects of campaign strategy.
Who made this guide?
We’re a group of social scientists working in DC in applied fields, like public policy and international development, who wanted to share our expertise in the science of influence to help campaigns on the Left. Our fields have mountains of evidence-based findings about what does and doesn’t work in changing people’s minds and behavior, based on many decades promoting positive behavior change on complex, culturally embedded issues such as gender equality, education, or public health. We want to share what we’ve learned with you, because we’re passionate about supporting your efforts. We’ve sought input from campaign managers and organizers on both national and local levels on key questions and ongoing challenges faced by campaigns. We brought these questions to leading social and behavioral scientists in academia, seeking current evidence and insights from these fields that might illuminate them, and integrated those into the summaries and suggestions offered here.
What’s in this guide?
This guide will give you a short recap of lessons from the social and behavioral sciences about how to reach people most effectively. Drawing from various disciplines, including social psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience, in addition to political science, this guide seeks to distill glimpses of a vast academic literature, and a broad evidence base from practitioners, into a few concise and accessible recommendations. You can click on the links in each section to access primary research and other resources, and you’re welcome to contact us if you have questions or would like additional help.
What’s beyond this guide?
This edition offers only a small fraction of the wealth of evidence on social and behavior change. It serves as a brief demonstration of what this evidence might offer to progressive campaigns – it’s far from the whole story.
This guide complements other, different efforts, such as direct campaign experiments in political science (The Analyst Institute, Get Out the Vote, David Broockman, et al.) and behavioral economics in public policy (the Nudge Unit in the UK, the Social and Behavioral Science Team in the Obama administration). Our aim here is to expand the toolbox by suggesting how a broader base of academic and applied social and behavioral sciences might offer new theories and techniques to explore.
Likewise, this guide seeks to complement and not replace more basic and comprehensive training in how to run a campaign. Resources on those are listed here.