Lau & Redlawsk: How Voters Decide

How Voters DecideAdams, W. A. (2007). Does Campaign Information Affect Your Vote?   [Review of the book, How Voters Decide: Information Processing During Election Campaigns]. PsycCRITIQUES—Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, (May 30, 2007, Vol. 52, Release 22, Article 17).Retrieved May 30, 2007 from the PsycCRITIQUES database (http://www.psycinfo.com/psyccritiques/).

An awful lot of money and the leadership of the United States are at stake in a presidential election, and the outcome depends on fickle voters like you and me.  How do we make our choice?  Candidates for elective office, their consultants, and campaign strategists would give anything to know exactly what it takes to win those precious votes.  Political scientists Richard Lau and David Redlawsk offer empirical advice.  They watched over 600 people make their choice for President of the U.S. in a series of mock elections simulated on a computer.  The main finding?  Lots of campaign information does not help you make a better choice and may even confuse you.  Better to ignore most of it.  All you need are a few heuristics.  It’s a startling finding, but I found the experiments, while ingenious, not very realistic, so I question the validity of the findings.  Still, a fascinating read.


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