Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Contrasting Rational and Psychological Analyses of Political Choice

  • George A. Quattrone (a1) and Amos Tversky (a1)

Abstract

We contrast the rational theory of choice in the form of expected utility theory with descriptive psychological analysis in the form of prospect theory, using problems involving the choice between political candidates and public referendum issues. The results showed that the assumptions underlying the classical theory of risky choice are systematically violated in the manner predicted by prospect theory. In particular, our respondents exhibited risk aversion in the domain of gains, risk seeking in the domain of losses, and a greater sensitivity to losses than to gains. This is consistent with the advantage of the incumbent under normal conditions and the potential advantage of the challenger in bad times. The results further show how a shift in the reference point could lead to reversals of preferences in the evaluation of political and economic options, contrary to the assumption of invariance. Finally, we contrast the normative and descriptive analyses of uncertainty in choice and address the rationality of voting.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Abelson, Robert, and Levi, Ariel. 1985. Decision Making and Decision Theory. In The Handbook of Social Psychology, 3d ed., ed. Lindzey, Gardner and Aronson, Elliot. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Adorno, Theodor, Frenkel-Brunswik, Else, Levinson, Daniel, and Sanford, R. Nevitt. 1950. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper.
Allais, Maurice. 1953. Le comportement de l'homme rationnel devant le risque: Critique des postulates et axiomes de l'école americaine. Econometrica 21:503–46.
Arrow, Kenneth J. 1982. Risk Perception in Psychology and Economics. Economic Inquiry 20: 19.
Bazerman, Max H. 1983. Negotiator Judgment. American Behavioral Scientist 27:211–28.
Bernoulli, Daniel. 1954. Exposition of a New Theory on the Measurement of Risk. Econometrica 22: 2336.
Converse, Philip. 1975. Public Opinion and Voting Behavior. In Handbook of Political Science, vol. 4, ed. Greenstein, Fred and Polsby, Nelson. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Dawes, Robyn. 1988. Rational Choice in an Uncertain World. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.
Downs, Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper & Row.
Kahneman, Daniel, Slovic, Paul, and Tversky, Amos. 1982. Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kahneman, Daniel, and Tversky, Amos. 1979. Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk. Econometrica 47:263–91.
Kahneman, Daniel, and Tversky, Amos. 1984. Choices, Values, and Frames. American Psychologist 39:341–50.
Kiewiet, D. Roderick. 1982. The Rationality of Candidates Who Challenge Incumbents in Congressional Elections. Social Science Working Paper no. 436, California Institute of Technology.
Kramer, Gerald H. 1971. Short-Term Fluctuations in U.S. Voting Behavior, 1896–1964. American Political Science Review 65:131–43.
Lebow, Richard N., and Stein, Janice G.. 1987. Beyond Deterrence. Journal of Social Issues 43: 571.
Meehl, Paul. 1977. The Selfish Voter Paradox and the Thrown-away Vote Argument. American Political Science Review 71:1130.
Quattrone, George A., and Tversky, Amos. 1984. Causal versus Diagnostic Contingencies: On Self-Deception and on the Voter's Illusion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46: 237–48.
Quattrone, George A., and Warren, Diann. 1985. The Ratio-Difference Principle and the Perception of Group Differences. Stanford University. Typescript.
Raiffa, Howard. 1968. Decision Analysis: Introductory Lectures on Choices under Uncertainty. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Riker, William, and Ordeshook, Peter. 1968. A Theory of the Calculus of Voting. American Political Science Review 10:2542.
Ross, Lee. 1986. Conflict Notes. Stanford University. Typescript.
Savage, Leonard. 1954. The Foundations of Statistics. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Shepsle, Kenneth. 1972. The Strategy of Ambiguity: Uncertainty and Electoral Competition. American Political Science Review 66:555–68.
Simon, Herbert. 1955. A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice. Quarterly Journal of Economics 69:99118.
Simon, Herbert. 1978. Rationality As Process and As Product of Thought. American Economic Review (Papers and Proceedings) 68:116.
Tursky, Bernard, Lodge, Milton, Foley, Mary Ann, Reeder, Richard, and Foley, Hugh. 1976. Evaluation of the Cognitive Component of Political Issues by Use of Classical Conditioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 34:865–73.
Tversky, Amos, and Kahneman, Daniel. 1986. Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions. The Journal of Business 59:251–78.
Von Neumann, John, and Morgenstern, Oskar. 1947. Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, 2d ed.Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed