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Confirmation bias and signaling in Downsian elections

Author

Listed:
  • Antony Millner

    () (UCSB - University of California [Santa Barbara] - University of California)

  • Hélène Ollivier

    () (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

  • Leo Simon

    () (LBNL - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory [Berkeley], Monash University [Melbourne])

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

  • Antony Millner & Hélène Ollivier & Leo Simon, 2020. "Confirmation bias and signaling in Downsian elections," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-02875069, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseptp:halshs-02875069
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104175
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02875069
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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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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