Inside the Voter’s Mind: The Effect of Psychometric Microtargeting on Feelings Toward and Propensity to Vote for a Candidate

Lennart J. Krotzek


Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, both scholars and news media have been discussing the impact of technology-driven campaign tools, such as online microtargeting, on the election outcome. Technological developments allow campaigners to analyze voters’ psychological profiles and to adapt political advertisements accordingly. However, little is known about the effectiveness of this technique in election campaigns and about the underlying processes behind its persuasiveness. This study examines the effects of congruence between a voter’s personality and a candidate’s message on the voter’s feelings toward and propensity to vote for the candidate. A U.S.-based online experiment (N = 199) reveals that ad congruence elicits a more positive feeling toward the candidate but does not significantly affect the propensity to vote for the candidate. The proposed mediators of cognition, emotion, and trust are not significant.


political communication, election campaigns, psychometric microtargeting, voter persuasion, advertising effects

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