Voting intention and choices: Are voters always rational and deliberative?
Chen, Eva E.
Chen, Arbee L.P.
|Source||PLoS ONE , v. 11, (2), February 2016, article number e0148643|
|Summary||Human rationality-the ability to behave in order to maximize the achievement of their presumed goals (i.e., their optimal choices)-is the foundation for democracy. Research evidence has suggested that voters may not make decisions after exhaustively processing relevant information; instead, our decision-making capacity may be restricted by our own biases and the environment. In this paper, we investigate the extent to which humans in a democratic society can be rational when making decisions in a serious, complex situation- voting in a local political election. We believe examining human rationality in a political election is important, because a well-functioning democracy rests largely upon the rational choices of individual voters. Previous research has shown that explicit political attitudes predict voting intention and choices (i.e., actual votes) in democratic societies, indicating that people are able to reason comprehensively when making voting decisions. Other work, though, has demonstrated that the attitudes of which we may not be aware, such as our implicit (e.g., subconscious) preferences, can predict voting choices, which may question the well-functioning democracy. In this study, we systematically examined predictors on voting intention and choices in the 2014 mayoral election in Taipei, Taiwan. Results indicate that explicit political party preferences had the largest impact on voting intention and choices. Moreover, implicit political party preferences interacted with explicit political party preferences in accounting for voting intention, and in turn predicted voting choices. Ethnic identity and perceived voting intention of significant others were found to predict voting choices, but not voting intention. In sum, to the comfort of democracy, voters appeared to engage mainly explicit, controlled processes in making their decisions; but findings on ethnic identity and perceived voting intention of significant others may suggest otherwise. © 2016 Lee et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.|
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