Sources of Individual Self-Identification: An Experimental Approach

Download data and study materials from OSF

This experiment was fielded as part of a TESS telephone survey. Data and materials for all the studies included on this survey is available here.

Principal investigators:

Alexander Kuo

Cornell University



Yotam Margalit

Columbia University



Sample size: 1117

Field period: 10/20/2005-02/12/2006


A growing field of scholarship in comparative politics examines the role of identity in determining political outcomes. An assumption in the literature is that how individuals identify
themselves reveals the political issues and social cleavages along which they are likely to mobilize. We propose an experiment that shows self-reported identity is more malleable than previously thought, undermining the notion that a systematic link exists between individual self-identification and politically salient cleavages.


We expect that exposure to a manipulation will influence a participant to respond differently to the final two self-identification questions, as opposed to the control-group respondent who will be unexposed to the vignette.

Experimental Manipulations

We propose three different experimental treatments. The vignette
categories will prompt individual identification by nationality, race/ethnicity, or occupation. To reduce the probability of contamination of our specified treatment, the vignette and its attendant questions should be the only treatment that would affect respondent self-identification.


Measures of self-identification.


For more information, see the proposal document in the "data and study materials" folder.