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A Behavioral Theory of Elections - Jonathan Bendor

Paperback Published: 6th February 2011
ISBN: 9780691135076
Number Of Pages: 264

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Most theories of elections assume that voters and political actors are fully rational. While these formulations produce many insights, they also generate anomalies--most famously, about turnout. The rise of behavioral economics has posed new challenges to the premise of rationality. This groundbreaking book provides a behavioral theory of elections based on the notion that all actors--politicians as well as voters--are only boundedly rational. The theory posits learning via trial-and-error: actions that surpass an actor's aspiration level are more likely to be used in the future, while those that fall short are less likely to be tried later on.

Based on this idea of adaptation, the authors construct formal models of party competition, turnout, and voters' choices of candidates. These models predict substantial turnout levels, voters sorting into parties, and winning parties adopting centrist platforms. In multiparty elections, voters are able to coordinate vote choices on majority-preferred candidates, while all candidates garner significant vote shares. Overall, the behavioral theory and its models produce macroimplications consistent with the data on elections, and they use plausible microassumptions about the cognitive capacities of politicians and voters. A computational model accompanies the book and can be used as a tool for further research.

Industry Reviews

"[T]his book offers plenty food for thought for both theoretical and empirical minded scholars and is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the dynamics of electoral competition."--Jasper Muis, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation "It ... need[s] to be confronted and digested by every graduate student who hopes to make his or her scholarly name in this field, because it provides a way to unify the higgledy-piggledy world of political behavior. It isn't the final word, but it is an important early step."--Kenneth A. Shepsle, Perspectives on Politics

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Bounded Rationality and Electionsp. 1
Framing and Representationsp. 5
Heuristicsp. 8
Aspiration-based Adaptation and Bounded Rationalityp. 12
Plan of This Bookp. 21
Aspiration-based Adaptive Rulesp. 23
ABARs Definedp. 23
Some Important Properties of ABARsp. 33
The Evidential Status of Aspiration-based Adaptationp. 46
Party Competitionp. 52
Related Workp. 54
The Model and Its Implicationsp. 56
Informed and/or Sophisticated Challengersp. 68
Robustness Issuesp. 74
Conclusionsp. 78
Turnoutp. 80
The Modelp. 82
Main Resultsp. 85
Variations in Participationp. 96
Conclusionsp. 107
Voter Choicep. 109
The Modelp. 112
The Endogenous Emergence of Party Affiliationp. 116
Misperceptionsp. 121
Retrospection and Prospection Combinedp. 122
Voter Sophistication and Electoral Outcomesp. 124
Institutions and Unsophisticated Retrospective Votersp. 128
Conclusionsp. 130
An Integrated Model of Two-Party Electionsp. 132
Full Computational Model for Two Partiesp. 134
Some Results of the Basic Integrated Modelp. 138
The Choices of Votersp. 141
Party Locationp. 145
Turnoutp. 148
New Questionsp. 152
Conclusionp. 159
Elections with Multiple Partiesp. 161
Extending Our Results to Multiple Partiesp. 161
Multicandidate Competition and Duverger's Lawp. 166
The Model and Simulation Resultsp. 173
An Intuitionp. 180
ABARs and Dynamic Stabilityp. 183
Model Meets Datap. 184
Conclusions: Bounded Rationality and Electionsp. 191
Testing the Theoryp. 194
Normative Considerations: Voter Error and Systemic Performancep. 196
Extensionsp. 198
Proofsp. 205
The Computational Modelp. 215
Overviewp. 215
Graphical Modelp. 216
Batch Modelp. 229
Bibliographyp. 233
Indexp. 249
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691135076
ISBN-10: 069113507X
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 264
Published: 6th February 2011
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.4  x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.39