Deception and Political Participation: Theory and Laboratory Evidence
George Mason University - Department of Economics
George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 12-27
We model two-candidate elections in which 1) voters are uncertain about candidates' attributes; and 2) candidates can inform voters of their attributes by sending advertisements. We compare political campaigns with truthful advertising to campaigns in which there is a small chance of deceptive advertising. Our model predicts that voters should vote in-line with an advertisement’s information. We test our model’s predictions using laboratory elections. We find, in the presence of an even small probability that an advertisement is deceptive, voters become substantially more likely to elect a “low-quality” candidate. We discuss implications of this for existing models of voting decisions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 80
Keywords: voter information, turnout, participation in elections, campaign finance, deceptive advertising
JEL Classification: C91, C92, D72
Date posted: August 26, 2009 ; Last revised: November 5, 2013
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