Public Opinion and Voting Behavior

Public Opinion and Voting Behavior

The Market for Belief Systems: A Formal Model of Ideological Choice

Thomas Gries University of Paderborn
,
Veronika Mueller University of Paderborn
,
John Jost New York University
Abstract
Belief systems play a crucial role when it comes to guiding human information processing, evaluation, judgement, behavior, and social coordination. But why do individuals and groups adopt the specific ideologies they do? And is it possible to use the tools of economics to understand the decisions that are made in the market for ideology? To address these and related questions, we synthesize insights garnered from standard rational choice models, characteristics demand theory, and the distance theory of voting, as well as theory and research on “elective affinities” in psychology. We offer a formal analysis of the role of psychological and consumption needs in shaping the individual’s choice of ideology under circumstances of uncertainty and limited resources and other constraints.
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