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Context-dependent voting and political ambiguity

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  • Callander, Steven
  • Wilson, Catherine H.

Abstract

In recent decades psychologists have shown that the standard model of individual choice is often violated. One regularly observed violation is that choices are influenced by the decision context. To incorporate these effects into politics, we introduce a theory of context-dependent voting and apply it to the puzzle of why candidates are so frequently ambiguous in their policy pronouncements. We show that context-dependent voters develop a taste for ambiguity, even when they evaluate distances quadratically and exhibit traditional risk aversion. Turning to aggregate effects, we incorporate context-dependent voting into a model of electoral competition and show that strategic candidates respond in equilibrium to context-dependent voters by offering ambiguous platforms, thereby affecting the policy outcome.

Suggested Citation

  • Callander, Steven & Wilson, Catherine H., 2008. "Context-dependent voting and political ambiguity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 565-581, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:3-4:p:565-581
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:kap:pubcho:v:173:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0461-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Azrieli, Yaron, 2011. "Axioms for Euclidean preferences with a valence dimension," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(4-5), pages 545-553.
    3. Thomas Fujiwara & Carlos Sanz, 2017. "Norms in Bargaining: Evidence from Government Formation in Spain," NBER Working Papers 24137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Benjamin Lockwood, 2015. "Voter Confirmation Bias and Electoral Accountability," CESifo Working Paper Series 5415, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Lockwood, Ben, 2017. "Confirmation Bias and Electoral Accountability," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 11(4), pages 471-501, February.
    6. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:271-292 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Yasushi Asako, 2015. "Campaign promises as an imperfect signal: How does an extreme candidate win against a moderate candidate?," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 27(4), pages 613-649, October.
    8. Rothengatter, Marloes, 2016. "Insights in cognitive patterns : Essays on heuristics and identification," Other publications TiSEM 5f812a9d-8968-48b8-8d1b-0, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

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