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Saturday Presenters and Papers

Anna BassiWeather, risk, and voting: an experimental analysis of the effect of weather beyond turnout
Theoretical and empirical studies show that inclement weather on an election day reduces turnout, potentially swinging the results of the election. This paper evaluates the effect of weather, through its effect on risk attitudes and individual behavior, on the way in which voters who do turn out decide to cast their votes. The paper provides experimental evidence of the effect of weather on voting when candidates are perceived as being more or less risky and analyzes how this effect varies as a function of the state of the world (positive or negative). Findings show that, after controlling for policy preferences, partisanship, and other background variables, bad weather depresses risk tolerance, i.e., voters are more likely to vote for the candidate who is perceived to be less risky. This effect is sizable and statistically significant both when voters evaluate the state of the world as positive and negative.
Peter LoewenExpertise and Efficacy in Elite Political Decision Making
Democracy assumes the delegation of decision making to politicians who then act as expert decision-makers (Strøm, 2000). Whereas citizens may be susceptible to biased or inefficient decision making (Kahneman et al., 1991), representative democratic government assumes – or is based on the hope, at least – that politicians, due to more experience, time and information, and/or due to the threat of electoral sanction, will make better decisions. Are elected politicians in fact expert decision-makers? When faced with complex decisions, do they behave differently from non-politicians? Here we report results from decision-making experiments with national-level politicians in three developed countries - Belgium, Canada, and Israel. We show that these elites exhibit a similar preference for risky decisions as normal citizens. We further show that politicians are similarly susceptible to anomalous decision making as a result of framing. Such tendencies in politicians are not attenuated by either increasing the political consequence of a decision, or by experience with democratic decision making. These results have important implications for our understanding of delegated decision making in representative democracy.
Reuben KlineCausal responsibility, asymmetric opportunity and inequality in anthropogenic climate change
In a carbon-based economy, the common pool resource dilemma surrounding appropriation of the global climate commons through economic development is inextricably linked to the collective action problem of climate change mitigation. As a result, rights and obligations pertaining to past, present and future greenhouse gas emissions are at the heart of disagreements in international climate change negotiations. We introduce an experimental game that captures the interdependent social dilemma of anthropogenic climate change and its mitigation. Treatments in which responsibility for the adverse consequences of climate change is endogenously determined by extraction from a common pool resource are compared to conditions in which endowments are identically distributed but exogenously determined. In an additional treatment we capture the distinction between industrialized and industrializing countries by manipulating historical opportunities for wealth creation. We find that endogenous responsibility makes successfully overcoming the social dilemma more difficult because it complicates the resolution of the mitigation dilemma by introducing another dimension of fairness considerations. Though our findings highlight the deleterious effect that asymmetric historical responsibility can have on successfully overcoming the climate change dilemma, they also demonstrate that when made salient, such responsibility can shape the behavior of the historically advantaged in such a way that facilitates bottom up solutions to governing the global climate commons. These solutions closely resemble obligations that have been built into proposed top-down solutions such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Warsaw Mechanism.
Joshua Chen-Yuan Teng & Joseph Tao-yi WangPrimary Social Goods and the Rawlsian Difference Principle
While most economists view the relationship between equality and efficiency as a tradeoff or conflict, Rawls (1971) saw it differently according to his proposed difference principle: equality has priority over efficiency in essence. Previous experimental studies lend little support to the importance of the difference principle -- subjects whose social preferences obey the difference principle represent only a small minority in the sample. This paper finds a much stronger support -- a salient majority of subjects whose social preferences obey the difference principle. A key to our departure from previous studies lies in that allocating monetary payoffs between subjects in our experimental design embodies not simply choosing the distribution of payoffs but more importantly the distribution of Rawls's so-called “primary social goods,” which serve as instruments critical to the fulfillment of people's rational desire.
Cheryl BoudreauRacial or Spatial Voting? The Effects of Ethnic Group Endorsements in Low-Information Elections
Voters face difficult choices in elections where party labels are unavailable and/or do not distinguish the candidates’ ideological positions. In these contexts, racial/ethnic cues may help voters to choose ideologically-similar candidates (spatial voting), or induce them to choose candidates based on race/ethnicity (racial voting). In most elections, these behaviors are observationally equivalent because ideology and race/ethnicity are correlated (i.e., minority candidates and voters tend to be more liberal than whites). We disentangle racial and spatial voting by examining voter decision making in local elections where this is not the case. Specifically, we create comparable measures of candidate and voter ideology and use exit polls to examine whether voters prefer ideologically-similar or racially-similar candidates. We also embed experiments that manipulate ethnic group endorsements. We find that candidates’ ideological positions affect voters’ decisions, but that ethnic group endorsements induce them to vote more racially, not more spatially.
Scott de Marchi & Erik WibbelsA Neural Network Approach to Measuring Political PreferencesStandard survey-based approaches to measuring political preferences suffer from serious problems ranging from priming to question ordering effects to attention deficit to sensitivity to question wording; they also require respondents to assess issues one at a time, despite the fact that issues are often bundled in political discourse, legislative bargaining, and respondent memory. Standard approaches to modelling survey-based data on preferences is also limiting as it imposes linearity (PCA) and requires the researcher to impose priors on the dimensionality of the issue space (factor analysis); each of these serves to impose structure on preferences that might not be there. In light of these limitations, we develop an alternative approach that builds on work in computer science, statistics and neuroscience. Using a web-based interface that allows respondents to sort issues in a two-dimensional space, we use the tools of network analysis to assess the relationship among issue location, issue salience, political preferences and behaviour. The approach is also highly amenable to experimentation on how the introduction of new issues and issue dimensions shape responses.
Han Il ChangA behavioral model of reciprocity in clientelism
I propose a formal model of reciprocity in clientelism, applying Dufwenberg and Kirchsteiger's (2004) equilibrium concept, sequential reciprocity equilibrium, to three electoral scenarios: no detection, turnout detection, and vote choice detection. If voters are motivated not only by material payoffs but also by psychological payoffs resulting from engaging in the reciprocal exchange of votes for private goods, a politician can induce support from even ex-ante strong opposers on policy grounds without relying on a detection mechanism. Furthermore, reciprocity increases economic efficiency from the politician's side, because the amount of private goods required for reciprocal voters is smaller than the amount required for purely materialistic voters. I conclude by discussing the implications of the equilibria, including suggestions for empirical research on reciprocity and policy recommendations for reducing clientelism.
Nichole SzembrotAre Voters Cursed When Politicians Conceal Policy Preferences?
In political campaigns, candidates often avoid taking positions on issues, instead making vague statements that conceal the policy preferences that would guide them if elected. The explanation for ambiguity proposed in this paper is that voters do not understand the informational content of a non-announcement. If voters are Bayesians, unraveling occurs, with only the most extreme candidates remaining ambiguous. However, if voters under-appreciate the relationship between candidates’ preferences and their strategies, more moderate candidates may also choose to be vague. This paper develops a model of candidate competition in which candidates can choose whether or not to announce their policy preferences to voters and applies Eyster and Rabin's (2005) concept of cursed equilibrium, which allows for varying degrees of understanding of the connection between type and strategy. It also describes and analyzes the results of an experimental test in which subjects in the lab play an election game based on the model. While the majority of subjects make choices that are consistent with the Bayesian model, a substantial fraction shows varying levels of cursedness.
Elizabeth CarlsonThe (Ir)relevance of Relative ProvisionWhy is being favored by the incumbent regime so important to African voters? In particular, why does high relative provision appear to be as or more important than high absolute provision? I propose a simple theory: in a low-information environment, voters who know whether an incumbent favors them, rather than simply knowing whether or not he has provided to them, are far more able to correctly assess the incumbent's type and their likelihood of being better served under a challenger about whom they have even less information. I use an experimental game as well as observational data to determine whether relative provision is in fact more important to voters than absolute provision, and how information affects this. I show that both the premise and the theory are at least partially incorrect.