Deliberation, Single-Peakedness, and the Possibility of Meaningful Democracy: Evidence from Deliberative Polls
PSPE Working Paper No. 1
41 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2007
Date Written: April 25, 2006
Majority cycling and related social choice paradoxes are often thought to threaten the meaningfulness of democracy. But deliberation can prevent majority cycles - not by inducing unanimity, which is unrealistic, but by bringing preferences closer to single-peakedness. We present the first empirical test of this hypothesis, using data from Deliberative Polls. Comparing preferences before and after deliberation, we find increases in proximity to single-peakedness. The increases are greater for lower versus higher salience issues and for individuals who seem to have deliberated more versus less effectively. They are not merely a byproduct of increased substantive agreement (which in fact does not generally increase). Our results both refine and support the idea that deliberation, by increasing proximity to single-peakedness, provides an escape from the problem of majority cycling.
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By Alice Siu