A core principle of policy advocacy is that to engage decision makers in the urgency, complexity, and controversy of problems, advocates must effectively tell the story of those issues. Policy stories, or narratives, paint mental pictures of what a problem is, who is affected, and how it came to be. Yet, the persuasive effects of narratives on one key group, state legislators, remain understudied. Drawing from the Narrative Policy Framework (NPF), media advocacy, and public interest communications, we sought to inform advocacy strategy by illuminating state legislators’ responses to messages about public investments in quality childcare for all. Contrary to expectations, we found that narratives can have unintended effects challenging or even diminishing legislator support. We discuss implications for advocacy strategy.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
6 This research was supported by the Evidence for Action Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation [grant no. 76134]. This research was deemed exempt by the Institutional Review Boards at both sponsoring universities (Cornell University and Portland State University). All respondents provided electronic informed consent prior to participation. Details are available from the Cornell University Institutional Review Board for Human Participants. The preregistered full study instrument, including message prompts and survey items, are presented on the OSF website (https://osf.io/mg4zk/?view_only=9aa62661343b4f629979a5160ed1fe04).
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- Early childcare
- Public policy
- State legislator