Does Group Deliberation Mobilize? The Effect of Public Deliberation on Willingness to Participate in Politics

  • C. Daniel MyersEmail author
  • Hunter G. Gordon
  • Hyungjin Myra Kim
  • Zachary Rowe
  • Susan Dorr Goold
Original Paper


Proponents of public deliberation suggest that engaging in deliberation increases deliberators’ subsequent participation in other forms of politics. We evaluate this “deliberative participation hypothesis” using data drawn from a deliberative field experiment in which members of medically underserved communities in Michigan deliberated in small groups about the design of that state’s Medicaid program. Participants were randomly assigned to deliberate about the program in a group or to think about the decision individually, and then completed a post-survey that included measures of willingness to engage in a variety of political acts. We measured willingness to engage in common forms of political participation, as well as willingness to participate in particularistic resistance to adverse decisions by insurance bureaucracies. Contrary to the claims of much of the existing literature, we find no impact of deliberation on willingness to engage in political participation. These results suggest that the ability of public deliberation to increase broader political engagement may be limited or may only occur in particularly intensive, directly empowered forms of public deliberation.


Political participation Turnout Deliberation Medicaid Health policy Particularistic resistance 



This research was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (1-R21-HS-023566-01). Dr. Goold is supported, in part, by a CTSA grant from the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research (Contract #UL1TR000433). The authors thank Cengiz Salmon, Lisa Szymecko, Edith Kieffer, A. Mark Fendrick, Karen Calhoun, Lynnette LaHahnn, Caro Ledon, Marion Danis, and Eric Campbell for assistance with the Medicaid-CHAT project. We also thank the participants in the Medicaid-CHAT sessions for their time and insights, and the steering committee for the Medicaid-CHAT project. Michael Neblo, William Minozzi, and three anonymous reviewers provided helpful feedback on drafts of this paper. All errors are, of, course, our own. Dr. Goold and her institutions could benefit from future paid licenses (royalties) for the CHAT tool used in this study. Replication data and code can be found at

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

This research was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Michigan. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11109_2018_9507_MOESM1_ESM.docx (54 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 53 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Daniel Myers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hunter G. Gordon
    • 1
  • Hyungjin Myra Kim
    • 2
  • Zachary Rowe
    • 3
  • Susan Dorr Goold
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Consulting for Statistics, Computing and Analytics ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Friends of ParksideDetroitUSA
  4. 4.Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in MedicineUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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