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

LMU Munich; 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

LMU Munich ( email )

Munich
Germany

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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