A Choice Experiment on a Forgotten Voter Heuristic
Comparing performance between countries is both a theoretically and intuitively useful yardstick for voters. Cross-national comparisons provide voters with heuristics that are less cognitively demanding, less ambiguous, and less uncertain than solely national, absolute performance measurements. We test this proposition using a unique, choice experiment embedded in the 2011 Danish National Election Study. This design allows to contrast cross-national comparisons with more traditional national sociotropic and egotropic concerns. The findings suggest that voters are strongly influenced by cross-national performance comparisons—even when accounting for classic national sociotropic and egotropic items. Specifically, voters respond strongly to how the prospective wealth of Denmark evolves relative to the neighboring Sweden. Interestingly, voters are more negative in their response to cross-national losses compared to their positive response to cross-national gains—indicating a negativity bias in voters’ preferences.
Political Behavior, 2015, Vol 37, Issue 4, p. 767-789