Impact of information acquisition costs on voting choices : an experimental study on information acquisition and ideological distances
Järvi, Theodora (2018)
Master's Degree Programme in Public Choice
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Individual decision-making and its applications have been of scientific interest for a long time. Decision-making is central to behaviour and can have multiple stages and contexts. This thesis looks at voting behaviour with a focus on the very initial stages of choice-making. The aim is to investigate how influential information acquisition and the related costs are to a personally rational decision – one in which the individual chooses a representative for themselves that best complements their ideological views. This thesis takes the unique viewpoint of a multiparty setting and adapts mathematical models to quantify the different variables associated with voting choices. To build a fuller representation of how these information acquisition costs influence choices, a pilot laboratory experiment is conducted. The results obtained suggest that information acquisition is highly influential to the outcomes of voting and needs to be well balanced, as information enhances the gains from voting, but the costs from acquiring information can have a negative impact on the outcome. Additionally, it is found that the initial information an individual possesses guides their further desire to look for information. This study concludes that there seems to be a need to study the issue further to better understand how decisions are made in a multiparty system and how information affects these decisions.