Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 802: Correcting Mistakes: Cognitive Dissonance and Political Attitudes in Sweden and the United States

Mikael Elinder ()
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Mikael Elinder: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: andUppsala University, Department of Economics, Box 513, SE-75120 Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract: Cognitive dissonance theory predicts that the act of voting makes people more positive toward the party or candidate they have voted for. Following Mullainathan and Washington (2009), I test this prediction by using exogenous variation in turnout provided by the voting age restriction. I improve on previous studies by investigating political attitudes, measured just before elections, when they are highly predictive of voting. In contrast to earlier studies I find no effect of voting on political attitudes. This result holds for a variety of political attitudes and for both Sweden and the United States.

Keywords: Cognitive Dissonance; Voting; Elections; Political Attitudes

JEL-codes: B59; C21; D72

Language: English

25 pages, June 22, 2009

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