Piergiorgio Corbetta, Pasquale Colloca

Electoral choice: typology of processes underlying voters' decisions

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Electoral Choice; Heuristics; Italian Voters; Information Processing; Electoral Campaign Simulation.

Unlike traditional electoral studies in Italy, which concentrate on the outcome of voters' choices, this article focuses on the processes through which these choices are made. It therefore shifts the attention from identification to evaluation. Moreover, starting from the assumption that political judgment is a cognitive process of the same nature as other assessment processes that are implemented in complex settings, the study draws extensively on the contributions of social psychology in both the theoretical sphere (the concept of heuristics) and the methodological domain (use of simulation and experimentation). We propose a typology of four different ways of deciding how to vote, based on the amount (quantity) of information utilized in the decision-making process and the content (quality) of the information itself. We find that these four types are related to the result of the decision (whether the vote is 'correct' in the sense of alignment with the subject's own beliefs) and to the social (gender, age, education) and political (ideological orientation, political sophistication) characteristics of the subjects studied. We find that the four types lead to different degrees of accuracy of choice. Moreover, they are not distributed uniformly among all voters; rather, differences in information processing and in the mechanisms that generate the decision are linked to different social and political characteristics of voters.

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