Cognitive Biases in Governing: Technology Preferences in Election Administration

Public Administration Review, MS 226-823

31 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2010

See all articles by Donald P. Moynihan

Donald P. Moynihan

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy

Stéphane Lavertu

The Ohio State University -- John Glenn School of Public Affairs

Date Written: June 11, 2010

Abstract

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

Moynihan, Donald P. and Lavertu, Stéphane, Cognitive Biases in Governing: Technology Preferences in Election Administration (June 11, 2010). Public Administration Review, MS 226-823, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1623995

Donald P. Moynihan (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy ( email )

Old North, Suite 100
37th & O Streets NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Stéphane Lavertu

The Ohio State University -- John Glenn School of Public Affairs ( email )

1810 College Rd
110 Page Hall
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

HOME PAGE: http://glennschool.osu.edu/faculty/lavertu/index.html

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