WARNING: May be subject to hyperbolic discounting

Politics and Behavioural Economics

A couple of interesting stories in the last couple of days, both of which may have behavioural angles.

First, Nadine Dorries, conservative MP and anti-abortion activist, has decided to go on “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here”. The consensus so far is that she isn’t really a celebrity, but that most sane people would gladly get her out of here. Chris Dillow has blogged about behavioural biases at play in her decision. I’d also volunteer overconfidence as another possibility here – not in her ability to win I’m a celebrity, but in her ability to survive this politically – perhaps she believes that she is too vital an asset to her party to have the whip withdrawn, or to face a serious challenger from within the conservatives at the next election? The response of Sir George Young, the new Chief Whip, who has withdrawn her status as a Conservative MP, at least temporarily, strongly suggests that she was wrong. After attacking the Prime Minister and Chancellor for being arrogant posh boys and surviving, perhaps she believed this trend would continue (this is  an example of the behavioural bias known as the Gambler’s fallacy). My personal view is that this constitutes evidence that Ms Dorries suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect.

On the less entertaining but more practical side, Jodi Beggs reports the use of an interesting behavioural technique by the Obama campaign – telling people how many people with their first name have already voted. If only they’d run an RCT.


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