Posts Tagged ‘Philip Cowley’

OPINION | Väljarna uppför sig är inte alltid så logiskt och rationellt som vi vill tro.

Sex , Lies and the Ballot Box by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford

Philip Cowley och Robert Ford, författare till Sex Lies and the Ballot Box, lyfter i en artikel i Total Politics fram fyra märkliga väljarbeteenden.

People’s recall about whether they vote in an election is not great. By this, we don’t mean how they voted but just whether they voted. Around 14% get this wrong. Importantly, they are about six times more likely to report a false positive than a false negative, to claim they voted when they didn’t rather than the other way round. This is partly because voting is still (widely, though not universally) seen as a social norm, but as Paul Whiteley – he wrote that chapter for us – points out, plenty of people are willing to disregard that social norm: around one in five happily and correctly admit they didn’t vote. Those who think voting is unimportant don’t tend to lie about whether they did it or not. The problem comes with those who think voting is important. When they don’t manage to vote, they’re much more likely to mislead. Or, as Whiteley put it, “people only mislead when it matters”.


People who are very interested in politics are twice as likely to have an opinion on fictitious policies than those who aren’t interested. And men are 50% more likely to express an opinion than women, one reason why men seem to have higher levels of political knowledge than women: they’re less willing to admit their ignorance.

If you are going to stand for elected office, it’s better to be called Abbott than Zane, because reading to the end of a ballot paper takes time, and some people can’t be bothered. One study of council elections between 1973 and 2012 suggests that some 2,050 councillors elected in this period owed their election to ballot position alone.


And don’t be ugly. One study ran a test asking people to judge how attractive they found pairs of candidates at the 2010 election. The more attractive individual was more likely to have won the contest. In closely-fought contests – those constituencies decided by less than 5% of the vote – attractiveness alone successfully predicted the outcome of almost three-quarters of fights.

Och det är inte lönt att tro att svenska väljare skulle vara så mycket bättre än i Storitannien. Var fjärde väljare minns t.ex. inte vad de röstade på. Eller så minns de helt enkelt fel.

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