Heuristics and Sophistication in the Voting Booth

35 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 4 Oct 2012

See all articles by Jacob Bower-Bir

Jacob Bower-Bir

Indiana University Bloomington - Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis

Nicholas D'Amico

Indiana University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

As an explanation for voter decision making under conditions of low knowledge and interest in politics, scholars have turned to the idea of decision shortcuts, or heuristics. This paper focuses on answering three major questions in the literature on heuristic decision making: who is using heuristics, what heuristics are they using, and do these heuristics help individuals make good political decisions. One theoretically and empirically important variable in these questions is an individual’s political sophistication. Despite the agreement between scholars on the importance of sophistication, its role in heuristic decision making has been confused. We argue that the importance of political sophistication is primarily as a selection mechanism, leading high sophisticates to use a partisan heuristic and low sophisticates to use an affective heuristic. We additionally find, counter to previous research, that there is no interactive effect between sophistication and heuristics. The effectiveness of heuristics in helping individuals make good vote choices will vary depending on type. But, this effectiveness is constant across levels of sophistication.

Keywords: heuristics, vote, sophistication, information search, knowledge, correct vote

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Bower-Bir, Jacob and D'Amico, Nicholas, Heuristics and Sophistication in the Voting Booth (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2105191

Jacob Bower-Bir (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis ( email )

Indiana University Bloomington
IN
United States

Nicholas D'Amico

Indiana University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Bloomington, IN
United States

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