Deception and Political Participation: Theory and Laboratory Evidence

80 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009 Last revised: 5 Nov 2013

Daniel Houser

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Sandra Ludwig

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2013

Abstract

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.

Keywords: voter information, turnout, participation in elections, campaign finance, deceptive advertising

JEL Classification: C91, C92, D72

Suggested Citation

Houser, Daniel and Ludwig, Sandra and Stratmann, Thomas, Deception and Political Participation: Theory and Laboratory Evidence (August 2013). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 12-27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1460940 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1460940

Daniel Houser

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Sandra Ludwig

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich ( email )

Ulm University
Helmholtzstrasse 18
Ulm, Baden-Württemberg 89081
Germany

Thomas Stratmann (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-2330 (Phone)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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