Department of Psychology (and Political Science, by courtesy)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Champaign, IL 61820
Much of social choice theory is dedicated to the elicitation and aggregation of ordinal preferences. Voters may experience uncertainty as to which vote to cast, especially when ballots are complex and when the number of candidates is large. Pollsters and election researchers may experience uncertainty about voter preferences. Furthermore, as the whole world witnessed in the 2000 U.S. presidential elections, election officials may experience uncertainty as to which ballots actually were cast. It is therefore very natural to investigate social choice theory when ballots are viewed as probabilistic. The present talk will provide an introduction and overview of descriptive probabilistic models of social choice behavior, as well as their application to real world election and survey data. A major emphasis will be placed on the new insights that this "behavioral" approach may yield regarding policy implications and regarding the wise choice of "good" election methods.