Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2108085
 
 

Citations (2)



 


 



Substituting the End for the Whole: Why Voters Respond Primarily to the Election-Year Economy


Andrew Healy


Loyola Marymount University

Gabriel Lenz


University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science

2012

APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper

Abstract:     
According to numerous studies, the election-year economy influences presidential election results far more than cumulative growth throughout the term. Here we describe a series of surveys and experiments that point to an intriguing explanation for voter behavior that runs contrary to the standard explanations political science has offered, but one that accords with a large psychological literature. Voters, we find, actually intend to judge presidents on cumulative growth. However, since that characteristic is not readily available to them, voters inadvertently substitute election-year performance because it is more easily accessible. This “end-heuristic” explanation for voters’ election-year emphasis reflects a general tendency for people to simplify retrospective assessments by substituting conditions at the end for the whole. The end heuristic explanation also suggests a remedy, a way to align voters’ actions with their intentions. Providing people with the attribute they are seeking — cumulative growth — eliminates the election-year emphasis.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: economy, retrospective voting, recency bias, attribute substitution, peak-end rule

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Date posted: July 15, 2012 ; Last revised: October 9, 2012

Suggested Citation

Healy, Andrew and Lenz, Gabriel, Substituting the End for the Whole: Why Voters Respond Primarily to the Election-Year Economy (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2108085

Contact Information

Andrew J. Healy
Loyola Marymount University ( email )
7900 Loyola Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90045-8350
United States
Gabriel Lenz (Contact Author)
University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science ( email )
210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
HOME PAGE: http://polisci.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/person_detail.php?person=378
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