The effectiveness of fear appeals in political communication: exploring the persuasive effect on female voters in the Scottish Independence Referendum
(2016) The effectiveness of fear appeals in political communication: exploring the persuasive effect on female voters in the Scottish Independence Referendum, no. 94.
Introduction (part): On the 18th of September 2014 voters in Scotland went to the polls to answer the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?". The independence referendum was fiercely and passionately debated by both sides, with 42 campaign groups (21 for a Yes vote and 21 for a No vote) registering with the Electoral Commission (Electoral Commission, 2014). After months of intense debate taking place across the press, Scotland's streets, and a series of televised debates, a record 3,623,344 voters placed a vote in the ballot box. This represented 84.6% of the electorate and the highest ever voter turnout recorded in the United Kingdom since the introduction of universal suffrage (Parliament UK, 2015). With such high levels of engagement and voter involvement, the Scottish independence referendum quickly became an important political and cultural turning point. The campaign was also increasingly close to call, with polls showing both Yes and No sides in the lead just days prior to September 18th. When the Scottish National Party (SNP) won an overall majority in the 2011 Scottish parliamentary election, thus beginning the process of holding a referendum, a YouGov poll created for The Sun newspaper estimated just 29% of Scots supported independence, with 58% opposed (YouGov, 2011). Over the course of the campaign period, the Yes side slowly closed the gap between the two sides. The final outcome of the referendum was Yes 44.65% to No 55.25%.