Deliberation, Single-Peakedness, and the Possibility of Meaningful Democracy: Evidence from Deliberative Polls

PSPE Working Paper No. 1

41 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2007

See all articles by Christian List

Christian List

London School of Economics

Robert C. Luskin

University of Texas at Austin

James Fishkin

Stanford University

Iain McLean

University of Oxford - Nuffield College

Date Written: April 25, 2006

Abstract

Majority cycling and related social choice paradoxes are often thought to threaten the meaningfulness of democracy. But deliberation can prevent majority cycles - not by inducing unanimity, which is unrealistic, but by bringing preferences closer to single-peakedness. We present the first empirical test of this hypothesis, using data from Deliberative Polls. Comparing preferences before and after deliberation, we find increases in proximity to single-peakedness. The increases are greater for lower versus higher salience issues and for individuals who seem to have deliberated more versus less effectively. They are not merely a byproduct of increased substantive agreement (which in fact does not generally increase). Our results both refine and support the idea that deliberation, by increasing proximity to single-peakedness, provides an escape from the problem of majority cycling.

Suggested Citation

List, Christian and Luskin, Robert C. and Fishkin, James and McLean, Iain, Deliberation, Single-Peakedness, and the Possibility of Meaningful Democracy: Evidence from Deliberative Polls (April 25, 2006). PSPE Working Paper No. 1, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1077752 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1077752

Christian List

London School of Economics ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Robert C. Luskin

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

James Fishkin

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Iain McLean

University of Oxford - Nuffield College ( email )

New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom

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