By a Newsnet reporter
Undecided voters who are given balanced information on the independence referendum are more likely to back Yes, a new study has found.
The research, carried out by the Behavioural Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh found that when undecided voters are presented with a balanced set of arguments, support for independence increased by between 10% and 15%.
Amongst individuals who described themselves as being more engaged with politics, the results rose between 18% and 22%.
Almost 300 people took part in the study which was carried out in April and May this year. Prior to starting, 70% described themselves as either undecided or open to changing their minds.
Researchers Davide Morisi and Céline Colombo found that when participants were given more information, the level of indecision halved.
Participants were given sixteen articles sourced from a variety of media and campaign output, the material was evenly split between pro-independence and pro-Union.
Most who took part chose a balance of items from both sides in the referendum. However some who had already decided which side they were backing were significantly more likely to make an unbalanced selection.
Results of the study show that provision of information:
a) reduces indecision about how to vote, especially when voter s are able to select the arguments to read;
b) increases the likelihood to vote Yes, especially when voter s are confronted with a balanced set of arguments;
c) interacts with individual – level elements and increases the likelihood to vote Yes especially among those who are more politically active and more emotionally involved in the issue of independence. Provision of information also slightly increases the likelihood to vote No, but this occurs in general only when voters are able to select the arguments to read and in very few sub – groups
Mr Morisi, from the European University Institute in Florence and lead researcher on the study, said: “Since independence is related to more uncertainty than keeping the status quo, reading convincing arguments has a stronger effect on a yes vote, because it contributes to reducing these uncertainties to an ‘acceptable’ level.”
He added: “it is quite astonishing to think that the subjects read this material for only 15 minutes but it still had a great effect. This is good news for the referendum campaign.”
Yes Scotland’s Chief Executive, Blair Jenkins said that the university’s research ‘confirmed’ what the campaign has been saying for more than a year.
Mr Jenkins said: “This confirms what Yes Scotland has been saying for some time, that the more people hear about the benefits of a Yes vote and the consequences of a No vote, the more people are attracted to putting Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.
“In just a few days, we’ll have one opportunity to make our enormous wealth work better for everyone who lives here, create more jobs, and protect Scotland’s NHS from the damaging effects of Westminster privatisation and cuts.
“With the remaining campaign days, Yes will get on with the job of persuading more of our fellow citizens – both No and undecided voters – that we need a Yes vote to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”
David Morisi added: “Since independence is related to more uncertainty than keeping the status quo, reading convincing arguments has a stronger effect on a Yes vote, because it contributes to reducing these uncertainties to an ‘acceptable’ level.”