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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Voting fast and voting slow : a dynamic dual processes account of voter decision-making Lockhart, Mackenzie


This thesis builds on previous work in dual process theory. Dual process theory argues that decisions are made based on two systems: one that is fast and one that is automatic. Based on evidence from psychological research, I argue that contextual cues such as the way voting is framed and the information available to voters should affect the way these two systems are used. When voters have more developed affective feelings or are manipulated to feel as if vote choice is an affective decision, they should be less likely to engage in cognitive reasoning. Using experimental and observational data from an experimental dataset, I demonstrate that the nature of online tallies (as proposed by Lodge, Stroh, and McGraw 1989) has a strong effect on how rational strategies are employed and that the framing of a decision as affective causes voters to make their vote choice more quickly. This work contributes two main pieces to the literature. First, using a novel design to demonstrate the two processes acting concurrently adds weight to the generalizability of dual process theory as previous research has been criticized for it’s lack of realism. Second, it demonstrates that the dual processes are dynamic and their role in vote choice depends on contextual clues.

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