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The Dark Side of the Vote: Biased Voters, Social Information, and Information Aggregation Through Majority Voting

  • Morton, Rebecca
  • Piovesan, Marco
  • Tyran, Jean-Robert

We experimentally investigate information aggregation through majority voting when some voters are biased. In such situations, majority voting can have a “dark side”, i.e. result in groups making choices inferior to those made by individuals acting alone. We develop a model to predict how two types of social information shape efficiency in the presence of biased voters and we test these predictions using a novel experimental design. In line with predictions, we find that information on the popularity of policy choices is beneficial when a minority of voters is biased, but harmful when a majority is biased. In theory, information on the success of policy choices elsewhere de-biases voters and alleviates the inefficiency. In the experiment, providing social information on success is ineffective. While voters with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to be de-biased by such information, most voters do not seem to interpret such information rationally.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9098.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9098
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