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Taking voters' consideration set into consideration: Modelling electoral choice in two stages

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Publication Type:

Conference Paper


5th ECPR General Conference, Potsdam, Germany (2009)


consideration set, voting


When individuals choose from a set of alternatives, they often decide in two stages. In the first stage they exclude several of the available alternatives and thus create a consideration set that comprises viable choice options. In the second stage they make their choice from this sub-set. Whereas in consumer and marketing research phased decision making has been extensively studied, in electoral research distinctions between stages in the choice process have been largely neglected. In this paper we identify the presence of consideration sets in the electorate and examine if factors that influence consideration set formation are identical to those that shape vote choice. Analyses focusing on the 2006 Dutch parliamentary elections demonstrate differences between the two stages. First, whereas party leader evaluations did not have an effect in the consideration set stage, they did have an effect in the choice stage. Second, whereas the decision making in the choice stage was characterized by compensatory decision rules, in the consideration stage non-compensatory decision rules played a role. These findings suggests that electoral choice is better modelled in terms of two sequential stages rather than one.

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