Tactical voting and party preferences : a test of cognitive dissonance theory
Title: Tactical voting and party preferences : a test of cognitive dissonance theory
Publisher: Springer/Plenum Publishers
Citation: Political behavior, 2013, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 429-452
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.
Subject: Party preferences; Partisanship; Party identification; Cognitive dissonance; Tactical voting; Genetic matching; Multiple control groups; Electoral systems; voters behavior; identification; partisanship; dynamics; perceptions; turnout; britain; choice; model
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