More Choice, Higher Turnout? The Impact of Consideration Set Size and Homogeneity on Political Participation

This article examines the relationship between the properties of electoral choice sets, as perceived by the voters, and electoral participation.

Following recent advances in choice research, the article distinguishes between an awareness set, consisting of all choice options known to the voter, and a consideration set which includes only those alternatives that are seriously considered by the voter. The authors hypothesize that the cardinality, ideological homogeneity and distinctiveness of individual consideration sets are positively associated with electoral participation. The expectation is tested with individual-level data from three waves of the European Elections Study. Our results suggest that the relationship between the structure of political supply and participation is complex: while the number of choice alternatives in the consideration set is positively associated with turnout, the ideological diversity of choice options suppresses electoral participation.

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