How Communication Can Make Voters Choose Less Well

AbstractWith the advent of social media, the last decade has seen profound changes to the way people receive information. This has fueled debate about the ways (if any) changes to the nature of our information networks might be affecting voters’ beliefs about the world, voting results, and, ultimately, democracy. At the same time, much discussion in the public arena in recent years has concerned the notion that ill-informed voters have been voting against their own self-interest. The research reported here brings these two strands together: simulations involving agent-based models, interpreted through the formal framework of Condorcet’s (1785) Jury Theorem, demonstrate how changes to information networks may make voter error more likely even though individual competence has largely remained unchanged.

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