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Discussion Paper Details

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Title: The Dark Side of the Vote: Biased Voters, Social Information, and Information Aggregation Through Majority Voting

Author(s): Rebecca Morton, Marco Piovesan and Jean-Robert Tyran

Publication Date: August 2012

Keyword(s): biased voters, information aggregation and majority voting

Programme Area(s): Public Economics

Abstract: We experimentally investigate information aggregation through majority voting when some voters are biased. In such situations, majority voting can have a ?dark side?, i.e. result in groups making choices inferior to those made by individuals acting alone. We develop a model to predict how two types of social information shape efficiency in the presence of biased voters and we test these predictions using a novel experimental design. In line with predictions, we find that information on the popularity of policy choices is beneficial when a minority of voters is biased, but harmful when a majority is biased. In theory, information on the success of policy choices elsewhere de-biases voters and alleviates the inefficiency. In the experiment, providing social information on success is ineffective. While voters with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to be de-biased by such information, most voters do not seem to interpret such information rationally.

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Bibliographic Reference

Morton, R, Piovesan, M and Tyran, J. 2012. 'The Dark Side of the Vote: Biased Voters, Social Information, and Information Aggregation Through Majority Voting'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9098