YOUNG independence supporters who voted for the first time in the 2014 referendum were not put off politics by the result, a study has found.

Previous research has suggested that first voting experiences can influence subsequent electoral participation – and that the 2010 General Election led to some young people feeling “disheartened and ­frustrated”.

But a series of interviews ­carried out with 16 and 17-year-old Yes ­supporters who were able to vote for the first time in the ­independence referendum found they instead ­channelled their disappointment into further political activity.

Study leader Dr Maddie Breeze (below), Chancellor’s Fellow in the School of Education at the University of ­Strathclyde, said: “We started the ­research in 2015 in the aftermath of the referendum.

“Our general interest was in 16 and 17-year-olds being able to vote for the first time in Scotland, but we were also interested in the specific emotional and social dynamics of having voted Yes in that referendum and then the result obviously being a No.

“We were interested in how that interacted with the first-time voting experience.”

The National: Maddie Breeze.

The research, published in the Journal of Youth Studies, looked at how participation in the referendum influenced learning about politics in general and making decisions about work, college and university.

Breeze cautioned that it was only a small number of “highly active and engaged” young people interviewed – who had all volunteered to be part of the study – so the group was not representative of the general population.

“We only interviewed young ­people who voted Yes and they were ­self-selected into the study,” she said.

“So not only did they vote but they were sufficiently interested in politics and independence to volunteer to participate in an academic study.

“They are unusually highly active and engaged young people, so we can’t make any generalisations.

“But for these young people, their participation in the referendum was important in the stories they told about their ongoing learning about politics and they were very committed to ongoing participation.”

She said: “There is some other ­research about young people voting for the first time in a UK election and there is some evidence to suggest if the result is disappointing it can be a little bit off-putting in terms of subsequent engagement and participation.

“But with our unusually engaged sample, the disappointment of the result had been channelled to further political passions and interests.”

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THE voting age was reduced from 18 to 16 for the independence referendum in 2014, allowing this age group to go to the ballot box for the first time. Registered voters included 109,593 16 to 17-year-olds, and 75% of 16 to 17-year-olds surveyed claimed to have voted.

Breeze said: “When votes for 16 and 17-year-olds were confirmed for the referendum, some of the concerns raised were around young people not thinking independently about it and simply copying what they were told in schools or what their parents told them.

“But our findings show the young people that we interviewed were very active in their own political ­socialisation – so they sought out various sources of information, they also played a role in educating their peers and their family members and their social networks.

“So they weren’t passively just ­doing what they were told.”

One participant in the study, ­Russell, said: “I remember before the independence referendum came around, you just didn’t talk to people in school about politics and it just changed that – then obviously when I came to university, I go to [find] all the people who care about politics.”

Another participant, Anne, who went on to study social sciences at university, said: “Before the ­independence referendum I wasn’t ­interested in politics at all, I didn’t understand it, and then when I ­actually started looking into it … I think I’m actually finding something I’m good at and I’m actually interested in.

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“I feel like I just want to pursue it – now I’ve actually found something that I feel I can make a difference in. I think if the independence referendum hadn’t have happened, I probably would have not got into politics.”

Breeze added: “What we thought was particularly interesting was how our participants drew on their ­experiences of voting for the first time – they were really highly engaged in referendum politics and the politics of Scottish independence.

“So it was a really important moment in their transition to adulthood and imagining their future selves in the world of work and their aspirations, things they wanted to study and the work they wanted to do.”