How Communication Can Make Voters Choose Less Well

Authored by Ulrike Hahn, Sydow Momme von, Christoph Merdes

Date Published: 2019

DOI: 10.1111/tops.12401

Sponsors: No sponsors listed

Platforms: No platforms listed

Model Documentation: Other Narrative

Model Code URLs: Model code not found


With the advent of social media, the last decade has seen profound changes to the way people receive information. This has fueled a debate about the ways (if any) changes to the nature of our information networks might be affecting voters' beliefs about the world, voting results, and, ultimately, democracy. At the same time, much discussion in the public arena in recent years has concerned the notion that ill-informed voters have been voting against their own self-interest. The research reported here brings these two strands together: simulations involving agent-based models, interpreted through the formal framework of Condorcet's (1785) jury theorem, demonstrate how changes to information networks may make voter error more likely, even though individual competence has largely remained unchanged. In recent years, the receipt and the perception of information has changed in ways which have fueled fears about the fates of our democracies. However, real information on these possibilities or the direction of these changes does not exist. Into this gap, Hahn and colleagues bring the power of Condorcet's (1785) Jury Theorem to show that changes in our information networks have affected voter inter-dependence so that it is likely that voters are now collectively more ignorant even if individual voter competence remains unchanged.
Self Economy Symbolic politics Communication Voting Agent-based modeling Condorcet jury theorem Vote aggregation