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Confirmation bias and signaling in Downsian elections

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  • Millner, Antony
  • Ollivier, Hélène
  • Simon, Leo

Abstract

How do voters' behavioural biases affect political outcomes? We study this question in a model of Downsian electoral competition in which candidates have private information about the benefits of policies, and voters may infer candidates' information from their electoral platforms. If voters are Bayesian, candidates ‘anti-pander’ – they choose platforms that are more extreme than is justified by their private beliefs. However, anti-pandering is ameliorated if voters' inferences are subject to confirmation bias. Voter confirmation bias causes elections to aggregate candidates' information better, and all observers, whether biased or Bayesian, would like the voters in our model to exhibit more confirmation bias than they do themselves.

Suggested Citation

  • Millner, Antony & Ollivier, Hélène & Simon, Leo, 2020. "Confirmation bias and signaling in Downsian elections," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 185(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:185:y:2020:i:c:s0047272720300396
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104175
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Arthur Fishman & Doron Klunover, 2020. "To Act or not to Act? Political competition in the presence of a threat," Papers 2010.03464, arXiv.org, revised Nov 2020.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Confirmation bias; Electoral competition; Pandering; Signaling;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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