IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

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

  • Rebecca B. Morton

    (Department of Politics, NYU)

  • Marco Piovesan

    (Harvard University)

  • Jean-Robert Tyran

    (Department of Economics, University of Vienna, and Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 12-08.

in new window

Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: 08 Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1208
Contact details of provider: Postal: Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 26, DK-1353 Copenhagen K., Denmark
Phone: (+45) 35 32 30 10
Fax: +45 35 32 30 00
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. S. Nageeb Ali & Jacob K. Goeree & Navin Kartik & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2008. "Information Aggregation in Standing and Ad Hoc Committees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 181-86, May.
  2. Erik Snowberg & Justin Wolfers, 2010. "Explaining the Favorite-Long Shot Bias: Is it Risk-Love or Misperceptions?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 723-746, 08.
  3. Tilman Slembeck & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2002. "Do Institutions Promote Rationality? An Experimental Study of the Three-Door Anomaly," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-21, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  4. Bottom, William P & Ladha, Krishna & Miller, Gary J, 2002. " Propagation of Individual Bias through Group Judgment: Error in the Treatment of Asymmetrically Informative Signals," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 147-63, September.
  5. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  6. Shmuel Nitzan & Jacob Paroush & Shlomo Lampert, 1980. "Preference expression and misrepresentation in points voting schemes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 421-436, January.
  7. Rupert Sausgruber & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2010. "Are We Taxing Ourselves? How Deliberation and Experience Shape Voting on Taxes," Vienna Economics Papers 1010, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  8. Thomas Markussen & Louis Putterman & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2011. "Self-Organization for Collective Action: An Experimental Study of Voting on Formal, Informal, and No Sanction Regimes," Discussion Papers 11-04, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2005. "Individual Irrationality and Aggregate Outcomes," Discussion Papers 05-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  10. Angela A. Hung & Charles R. Plott, 2001. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity-Rewarding Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1508-1520, December.
  11. Wit, Jorgen, 1998. "Rational Choice and the Condorcet Jury Theorem," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 364-376, February.
  12. Pedro Dal Bo & Andrew Foster & Louis Putterman, 2007. "Institutions and Behavior: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Democracy," Working Papers 2007-9, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  13. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Koch, Alexander K. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2008. "Belief Elicitation in Experiments: Is there a Hedging Problem?," IZA Discussion Papers 3517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 1998. "Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 151-170, Summer.
  15. Gneezy, U. & Kapteyn, A. & Potters, J.J.M., 2003. "Evaluation periods and asset prices in a market experience," Other publications TiSEM 55910884-79d7-483c-abbb-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  16. Gneezy, U. & Kapteyn, A. & Potters, J.J.M., 2002. "Evaluation Periods and Asset Prices in a Market Experiment," Discussion Paper 2002-8, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  17. Blinder, Alan S & Morgan, John, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better than One? Monetary Policy by Committee," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 789-811, October.
  18. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1208. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Hoffmann)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.