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Psychologically-based voting with uncertainty

Arianna Degan and Ming Li

European Journal of Political Economy, 2015, vol. 40, issue PB, 242-259

Abstract: We analyse a psychologically-based model of voter turnout in an election with common value and uncertainty about who the best candidate is. Potential voters' behaviour is based on anticipated regret, where voters will experience regret if they fail to vote or vote for the wrong candidate. Furthermore, such regret is stronger when the margin of victory is smaller. We characterize mixed and pure-strategy equilibria, which can be desirable, where the right candidate is always elected in all states, or undesirable, where the wrong candidate is elected in some state. Our model yields distinctive comparative statics results. First, an increase in the proportion of informed citizens may cause the winning margin for the right candidate to either rise or fall, depending on the type of equilibrium. In addition, such an increase can have a non-monotonic effect on turnout of uninformed citizens. Second, as the prior becomes more favourable towards the ex ante favoured candidate, turnouts of informed and uninformed voters both change in a non-monotonic way. Furthermore, total turnout can be positively or negatively correlated with winning margins. The distinctive implications of our model could be tested using experimental or empirical studies. In addition, given its inclusion of uncertainty, our model can be used to study, in future research, information provision and acquisition as well as other policy questions.

Keywords: Regret; Voter turnout; Behavioural political economy; Psychology and economics; Informed voters; Uninformed voters (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D03 D72 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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