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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Judgment and choice are at the core of all politics. This chapter develops a general framework for the study of individual decision-making that applies equally well to both elites and the mass public, focusing on processes used to identify alternatives, gather information, make an evaluation, and ultimately choose one alternative from many possibilities. It uses the framework of behavioral decision theory (BDT), which begins with the proposition that how decisions are made can be best studied by actually observing them in the making. The essay contrasts BDT with rational choice theory (RCT), arguing that BDT provides a superior way to understand how people make decisions and opens for study additional dimensions of the decision-making process. Psychological models derived from BDT have been applied to voter decision-making to examine decision strategies, decision quality, and election outcomes.

Keywords: behavioral decision theory, rational choice theory, voting, decision-making, information search, heuristics, decision quality

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