Memory retrieval processes help explain the incumbency advantage
Anna Katharina SpÃ¤lti,
Mark J. Brandt and
Judgment and Decision Making, 2017, vol. 12, issue 2, 173-182
Voters prefer political candidates who are currently in office (incumbents) over new candidates (challengers). Using the premise of query theory (Johnson, HÃ¤ubl & Keinan, 2007), we clarify the underlying cognitive mechanisms by asking whether memory retrieval sequences affect political decision making. Consistent with predictions, Experiment 1 (N = 256) replicated the incumbency advantage and showed that participants tended to first query information about the incumbent. Experiment 2 (N = 427) showed that experimentally manipulating participantsâ€™ query order altered the strength of the incumbency advantage. Experiment 3 (N = 713) replicated Experiment 1 and, in additional experimental conditions, showed that the effects of incumbency can be overridden by more valid cues, like the candidatesâ€™ ideology. Participants queried information about ideologically similar candidates earlier and also preferred these ideologically similar candidates. This is initial evidence for a cognitive, memory-retrieval process underling the incumbency advantage and political decision making.
Keywords: memory retrieval; query theory; incumbency advantage; information processing; political decision making (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:jdm:journl:v:12:y:2017:i:2:p:173-182
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