Tactical Voting and Party Preferences: A Test of Cognitive Dissonance Theory

Tactical Voting and Party Preferences: A Test of Cognitive Dissonance Theory Studying the development of stable political attitudes, political scientists have argued that repeated voting for a political party reinforces initial party preferences, in a seemingly mechanistic process of habit-formation. However, the empirical evidence is scarce and the theoretical framework underdeveloped. Does the act of voting for a party improve an individual’s evaluation of this party? If so, is this effect simply due to habit-formation, or a more complex psychological mechanism? Drawing on cognitive dissonance theory, we examine the act of voting as a choice inducing dissonance reduction. We go beyond existing research, by focusing on tactical voters—a group for which the notion of habitual reinforcement does not predict an effect. The analyses reveal a positive effect of the act of voting tactically on the preferences for the parties voted for and may thus call for a revision of the traditional understanding of the role of voting in shaping party preferences. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

Tactical Voting and Party Preferences: A Test of Cognitive Dissonance Theory

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
Subject
Social Sciences, general; Political Science, general; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11109-012-9205-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Studying the development of stable political attitudes, political scientists have argued that repeated voting for a political party reinforces initial party preferences, in a seemingly mechanistic process of habit-formation. However, the empirical evidence is scarce and the theoretical framework underdeveloped. Does the act of voting for a party improve an individual’s evaluation of this party? If so, is this effect simply due to habit-formation, or a more complex psychological mechanism? Drawing on cognitive dissonance theory, we examine the act of voting as a choice inducing dissonance reduction. We go beyond existing research, by focusing on tactical voters—a group for which the notion of habitual reinforcement does not predict an effect. The analyses reveal a positive effect of the act of voting tactically on the preferences for the parties voted for and may thus call for a revision of the traditional understanding of the role of voting in shaping party preferences.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Jun 30, 2012

References

  • Semiparametric instrumental variable estimation of treatment response models
    Abadie, A
  • The end of economic voting? Contingency dilemmas and the limits of democratic accountability
    Anderson, CJ
  • Overcoming denial and increasing the intention to use condoms through the induction of hypocrisy
    Aronson, E; Fried, C; Stone, J
  • Unemployment persistence
    Arulampalam, W; Booth, AL; Taylor, MP

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