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Correcting Mistakes: Cognitive Dissonance and Political Attitudes in Sweden and the United States

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  • Elinder, Mikael

    () (Department of Economics)

Abstract

Cognitive dissonance theory predicts that the act of voting makes people more positive toward the party or candidate they have voted for. Following Mullainathan and Washington (2009), I test this prediction by using exogenous variation in turnout provided by the voting age restriction. I improve on previous studies by investigating political attitudes, measured just before elections, when they are highly predictive of voting. In contrast to earlier studies I find no effect of voting on political attitudes. This result holds for a variety of political attitudes and for both Sweden and the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Elinder, Mikael, 2009. "Correcting Mistakes: Cognitive Dissonance and Political Attitudes in Sweden and the United States," Working Paper Series 2009:12, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:uunewp:2009_012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. M. Keith Chen, 2008. "Rationalization and Cognitive Dissonance: Do Choices Affect or Reflect Preferences?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002336, David K. Levine.
    2. Rabin, Matthew, 1994. "Cognitive dissonance and social change," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, pages 177-194.
    3. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-319, June.
    4. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 1187-1234.
    5. George A. Akerlof, 1989. "The Economics Of Illusion," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 1-15, March.
    6. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    7. Ebonya Washington & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2009. "Sticking with Your Vote: Cognitive Dissonance and Political Attitudes," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 86-111, January.
    8. Alan S. Gerber & Dean Karlan & Daniel Bergan, 2009. "Does the Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, pages 35-52.
    9. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
    10. Bryan Caplan, 2006. "How do voters form positive economic beliefs? Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 367-381, September.
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:99:y:2005:i:02:p:153-167_05 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Caplan, Bryan, 2001. "Rational Ignorance versus Rational Irrationality," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 3-26.
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    Cited by:

    1. Libman, Alexander & Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten & Yadav, Gaurav, 2013. "Are human rights and economic well-being substitutes? The evidence from migration patterns across the Indian states," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 139-164.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cognitive dissonance; Voting; Elections; Political Attitudes;

    JEL classification:

    • B59 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Other
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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