In this study we take Tunisia, which overthrew its dictatorship in 2011, as a case study to
investigate how democratic values and behavior can be induced in a new democracy. We
test the impact of online civic education by implementing an online experiment through
Facebook and Instagram. Before the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections
took place in September-October 2019, we recruited 2,000 Tunisian young people using
social media platforms with online advertisements. Our participants were randomly assigned
to four experimental arms where three of them involved watching videos on civic
education content (treatments) and a fourth one that involved videos with non-political content
(placebo). One treatment arm emphasized the positive benefits of a democratic system
(gain-framed), another emphasized “loss aversion” by pitting autocracy versus democracy
(loss-framed), and a third informed how to put in practice civic education without using
gain/loss framing (self-efficacy-framed). Our findings suggest that online civic education
can have a transformative effect on democratic citizenship: treatment effects were significant
across a broad range of outcomes related to behavioral intentions (voting, campaign
participation, future registration), support for democracy, reduction in authoritarian nostalgia
and political self-efficacy. Further analyses suggest that the “loss aversion” and “democratic
benefits” treatments showed the most consistent impacts of the three treatment arms.