Madsen JK, Pilditch TD (2018) A method for evaluating cognitively informed micro-targeted campaign strategies: An agent-based model proof of principle. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0193909. https:// doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0193909View
In political campaigns, perceived candidate credibility influences the persuasiveness of messages. In campaigns aiming to influence people's beliefs, micro-targeted campaigns (MTCs) that target specific voters using their psychological profile have become increasingly prevalent. It remains open how effective MTCs are, notably in comparison to population-targeted campaign strategies. Using an agent-based model, the paper applies recent insights from cognitive models of persuasion, extending them to the societal level in a novel framework for exploring political campaigning. The paper provides an initial treatment of the complex dynamics of population level political campaigning in a psychologically informed manner. Model simulations show that MTCs can take advantage of the psychology of the electorate by targeting voters favourable disposed towards the candidate. Relative to broad campaigning, MTCs allow for efficient and adaptive management of complex campaigns. Findings show that disliked MTC candidates can beat liked population targeting candidates, pointing to societal questions concerning campaign regulations.