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Competence versus Trustworthiness: What Do Voters Care About?

Author

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  • Fabio Galeotti

    (University of East Anglia)

  • Daniel John Zizzo

    (University of East Anglia)

Abstract

Appointing public officials is an important feature of modern democracies. Citizens are periodically asked to select amongst different candidates whom they want to appoint as public officials in central or local governments. There may be a trade-off on the extent to which candidates are seen as competent versus the extent to which they are seen as trustworthy. In our experiment, we ask voters to select a public official, on the competence and trustworthiness of which their final payoffs depend. We measure the competence of candidates in a real effort task and their trustworthiness in a trust game, and provide this information to voters when they make their voting decision. By looking at cases where there is a competence-trustworthiness trade-off, we can then measure the extent to which competence and trustworthiness matter in electoral decisions. We find that, in general, most voters tend to select the candidate rationally, based on who provides the highest expected profit irrespectively of trustworthiness and competence, but there is a bias towards caring about trustworthiness when the difference in expected profits between the two candidates is small enough.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabio Galeotti & Daniel John Zizzo, 2014. "Competence versus Trustworthiness: What Do Voters Care About?," University of East Anglia Applied and Financial Economics Working Paper Series 060, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  • Handle: RePEc:uea:aepppr:2012_60
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fabio Galeotti & Daniel John Zizzo, 2015. "Competence versus Honesty : What Do Voters Care About ?," Working Papers 1520, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    2. Otto, Philipp E. & Bolle, Friedel, 2016. "The advantage of hierarchy: Inducing responsibility and selecting ability?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 49-57.
    3. Fehrler, Sebastian & Przepiorka, Wojtek, 2016. "Choosing a partner for social exchange: Charitable giving as a signal of trustworthiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 157-171.
    4. repec:eee:eecrev:v:105:y:2018:i:c:p:27-50 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Galeotti, Fabio & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2018. "Identifying voter preferences: The trade-off between honesty and competence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 27-50.

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