Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Learning, Choice Consistency, and Individual Differences in How People Think Elections Should be Decided

Caddick, Zachary A. (2023) Learning, Choice Consistency, and Individual Differences in How People Think Elections Should be Decided. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

This is the latest version of this item.

Download (4MB) | Preview


There are ongoing debates about whether the U.S. should switch from plurality voting to alternative systems (e.g., cardinal or ranked-choice voting) and debates about the relative fairness and ease of learning different systems. To address these issues, we developed the ‘Who Won the Election Task’ (WWET) in which participants were shown the results of a hypothetical election in which a group of people were voting on which candidate to hire. The WWET had participants determine elections from raw data and allowed us to calculate the degree to which participants’ choices agreed with the three voting systems. In four studies, we evaluated how participants’ preferences about voting systems, the consistency in these preferences when measured in different ways, and whether their understanding of the voting systems and individual differences predicted their voting system preferences. Additionally, we tested educational interventions, which improved participants’ understanding of the voting systems. Across all the studies, participants’ choices in the WWET were most consistent with plurality voting. However, participants tended to view ranked-choice voting as fairer than plurality. In Studies 3 and 4 participants even sometimes viewed cardinal voting as fairer than plurality. In general, we found low consistency in voting system preferences when measured in different ways. One reason this may occur is because participants struggled to comprehend the alternative voting systems and were not adequately self-assessing their own knowledge. This research has implications for persuading the public to change voting systems for elections as well as how groups should make collective decisions (e.g., hiring decisions).


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Caddick, Zachary A.zac21@pitt.eduzac210000-0002-3369-7727
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRottman, Benjamin M.rottman@pitt.edu0000-0002-4718-3970
Committee MemberFraundorf, Scott H.sfraundo@pitt.edu0000-0002-0738-476X
Committee MemberBinning, Kevin R.kbinning@pitt.edu0000-0002-5396-4183
Committee MemberMiller, Nicholas R.nmiller@umbc.edu0000-0001-6894-3919
Date: 25 January 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 December 2022
Approval Date: 25 January 2023
Submission Date: 9 December 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 258
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: decision-making, learning, voting, politics
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2023 14:45
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2023 14:45

Available Versions of this Item


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item