Information distortion and voting choices: The origins and effects of factual beliefs in initiative elections

Chris Wells, Justin Reedy, John Gastil, Carolyn Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

To account for voter decision making in initiative elections, we integrate theory and research on public opinion, misinformation, and motivated reasoning. Heuristic and motivated reasoning literatures suggest that voters' preexisting values interact with political sophistication such that politically knowledgeable voters develop systematically distorted empirical beliefs relevant to the initiatives on their ballots. These beliefs, in turn, can predict voting preferences even after controlling for underlying values, regardless of one's political sophistication. These hypotheses were tested using a 2003 voter survey conducted prior to a statewide initiative election that repealed a workplace safety regulation. Results showed that only those voters knowledgeable of key endorsements had initiative-specific beliefs that lined up with their underlying antiregulation values. Also, voters' empirical beliefs had an effect on initiative support even after controlling for prior values, and political sophistication did not moderate this effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-969
Number of pages17
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume30
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

Fingerprint

Politics
voting
election
Values
voter
Public Opinion
Workplace
public opinion
heuristics
Decision Making
workplace
Communication
Safety
decision making
regulation
Voting
Elections
Research
Voters
Sophistication

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and International Relations

Cite this

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Information distortion and voting choices : The origins and effects of factual beliefs in initiative elections. / Wells, Chris; Reedy, Justin; Gastil, John; Lee, Carolyn.

In: Political Psychology, Vol. 30, No. 6, 01.12.2009, p. 953-969.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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