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Why votes have value: Instrumental voting with overconfidence and overestimation of others' errors

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  • Dittmann, Ingolf
  • Kübler, Dorothea
  • Maug, Ernst
  • Mechtenberg, Lydia

Abstract

We perform an experiment in which subjects bid for participating in a vote. The setting precludes conflicts of interests or direct benefits from voting. The theoretical value of participating in the vote is therefore zero if subjects have only instrumental reasons to vote and form correct beliefs. Yet, we find that experimental subjects are willing to pay for the vote and that they do so for instrumental reasons. The observed voting premium in the main treatment is high and can only be accounted for if some subjects either overestimate their pivotality or do not pay attention to pivotality at all. A model of instrumental voting, which assumes that individuals are overconfident and that they overestimate the errors of others, is consistent with results from treatments that make the issue of pivotality salient to experimental subjects.

Suggested Citation

  • Dittmann, Ingolf & Kübler, Dorothea & Maug, Ernst & Mechtenberg, Lydia, 2014. "Why votes have value: Instrumental voting with overconfidence and overestimation of others' errors," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 17-38.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:84:y:2014:i:c:p:17-38
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2013.12.004
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    4. Bortolon, Patrícia M. & Câmara Leal, Ricardo P., 2014. "Dual-class unifications and corporate governance in Brazil," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 89-108.
    5. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Behavioral political economy: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 395-417.
    6. Herrade Igersheim & Antoinette Baujard & Jean-François Laslier, 2016. "La question du vote. Expérimentations en laboratoire et In Situ," Working Papers halshs-01402275, HAL.
    7. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2014. "Behavioral public choice: A survey," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/03, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    8. Mechtenberg, Lydia & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2019. "Voter motivation and the quality of democratic choice," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 241-259.
    9. Igerseim, Herrade & Baujard, Antoinette & Laslier, Jean-François, 2016. "La question du vote. Expérimentations en laboratoire et In Situ," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 92(1-2), pages 151-189, Mars-Juin.
    10. Anida Krajina & Jakub Prochazka, 2018. "Motives behind voting and the perception of the motives: paradox of voting in Bosnia and Herzegovina," Eurasian Economic Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 8(3), pages 451-483, December.
    11. Antoinette Baujard & Herrade Igersheim & Isabelle Lebon, 2020. "Some regrettable grading scale effects under different versions of evaluative voting," Working Papers halshs-02926780, HAL.
    12. Antoinette Baujard & Herrade Igersheim & Isabelle Lebon, 2021. "Some regrettable grading scale effects under different versions of evaluative voting," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 56(4), pages 803-834, May.
    13. Karl H.Schlag, 2015. "Who gives Direction to Statistical Testing? Best Practice meets Mathematically Correct Tests," Vienna Economics Papers 1512, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    14. Saito, Hiroharu, 2022. "Loss aversion for the value of voting rights: WTA/WTP ratios for a ballot," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
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    16. Sebastian Garmann, 2020. "Political efficacy and the persistence of turnout shocks," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 411-429, November.
    17. Jean-Robert Tyran & Alexander K. Wagner, 2016. "Experimental Evidence on Expressive Voting," Discussion Papers 16-12, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting; Experimental economics; Overconfidence; Pivotality; Cognitive biases;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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