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Does high on the ballot means highly competent? Explaining the ballot position effect in list-PR systems

Robin Devroe (UGent) and Bram Wauters (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Previous research provides solid evidence for the existence of a ballot position effect. The cognitive mechanisms behind this effect are, however, undertheorized and understudied. We develop and test here ‘voter perception effects’ as a possible explanation. Following this reasoning, the list position in a list-PR system functions as a heuristic cue for the competence of candidates: candidates selected for a high list position are perceived as more competent by voters, even when controlling for other candidate characteristics. Our results, based on an experimental design, show that head of lists are indeed perceived as more competent than middle of list candidates. This is related to both advantages for the first position and to disadvantages related to a middle of list position.
Keywords
Ballot position effect, Electoral behavior, Electoral systems, Preference votes, Survey experiments

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Devroe, Robin, and Bram Wauters. “Does High on the Ballot Means Highly Competent? Explaining the Ballot Position Effect in List-PR Systems.” ACTA POLITICA, 2020.
APA
Devroe, R., & Wauters, B. (2020). Does high on the ballot means highly competent? Explaining the ballot position effect in list-PR systems. ACTA POLITICA.
Chicago author-date
Devroe, Robin, and Bram Wauters. 2020. “Does High on the Ballot Means Highly Competent? Explaining the Ballot Position Effect in List-PR Systems.” ACTA POLITICA.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Devroe, Robin, and Bram Wauters. 2020. “Does High on the Ballot Means Highly Competent? Explaining the Ballot Position Effect in List-PR Systems.” ACTA POLITICA.
Vancouver
1.
Devroe R, Wauters B. Does high on the ballot means highly competent? Explaining the ballot position effect in list-PR systems. ACTA POLITICA. 2020;
IEEE
[1]
R. Devroe and B. Wauters, “Does high on the ballot means highly competent? Explaining the ballot position effect in list-PR systems,” ACTA POLITICA, 2020.
@article{8626098,
  abstract     = {Previous research provides solid evidence for the existence of a ballot position effect. The cognitive mechanisms behind this effect are, however, undertheorized and understudied. We develop and test here ‘voter perception effects’ as a possible explanation. Following this reasoning, the list position in a list-PR system functions as a heuristic cue for the competence of candidates: candidates selected for a high list position are perceived as more competent by voters, even when controlling for other candidate characteristics. Our results, based on an experimental design, show that head of lists are indeed perceived as more competent than middle of list candidates. This is related to both advantages for the first position and to disadvantages related to a middle of list position.},
  author       = {Devroe, Robin and Wauters, Bram},
  issn         = {0001-6810},
  journal      = {ACTA POLITICA},
  keywords     = {Ballot position effect,Electoral behavior,Electoral systems,Preference votes,Survey experiments},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Does high on the ballot means highly competent? Explaining the ballot position effect in list-PR systems},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41269-018-0124-y},
  year         = {2020},
}

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