Cognitive Biases in Governing: Technology Preferences in Election Administration
Public Administration Review, MS 226-823
31 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 11, 2010
Cognitive biases are heuristics that shape individual preferences and decisions in a way at odds with means-end rationality. The effects of cognitive biases on governing are underexplored. We study how election administrators’ cognitive biases shape their preferences for e-voting technology using data from a national survey of local election officials. The Technology Acceptance Model, which employs a rational, means-end perspective, suggests that the perceived benefits of e-voting machines explain their popularity. But our findings indicate that cognitive biases also play a role, even after controlling for perceived benefits and costs of the technology. The findings point to a novel cognitive bias that is of particular interest to research on e-government: officials who have a general faith in technology are attracted to more innovative alternatives. We also find that local election officials who prefer e-voting machines do so in part because they overvalue the technology they already possess, and because they are overly confident in their own judgment.
Keywords: election administration, e-government, technology, cognitive biases, decision frame
JEL Classification: D73, D81, H70, O39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation