11 votes

How “information gerrymandering” influences voters

3 comments

  1. [3]
    skybrian
    Link
    From the abstract: "Players are assigned to competing groups (parties) and placed on an ‘influence network’ that determines whose voting intentions each player can observe." So it seems like...

    From the abstract: "Players are assigned to competing groups (parties) and placed on an ‘influence network’ that determines whose voting intentions each player can observe."

    So it seems like "information gerrymandering" is an appropriate term for what they did in the experiment. The people setting up the experiment are in control of the groups, similar to how a state legislature are in control of lines between districts.

    But I'm not sure this corresponds to anything in real life? Either people are choosing for themselves who to associate with, or it's based on family. Either way, there isn't someone out there making decisions on who we connect with.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      I think the important parts of what they observed were the following: This indicated that the way in which people voted, depended on how they interpreted polls - when it appears that their "side"...

      I think the important parts of what they observed were the following:

      In general, voters almost always voted for their own party when the polling data showed it had a chance of reaching a super-majority share. They also voted for their own side when the polling data showed a deadlock was likely. But when the opposing party was likely to achieve a super-majority, half the players would vote for it, and half would continue to vote for their own side.

      This indicated that the way in which people voted, depended on how they interpreted polls - when it appears that their "side" is going to lose, sometimes they change how they vote to vote towards the side that will win.

      This information lead forward to the following finding:

      When members of one party were led to believe that most others were voting for the other party, they often switched their votes to avoid deadlock.

      This kind of phenomenon - voting with the pack, herd mentality, whatever you want to call it is a social one and one that can be (and has been) exploited.

      The article outlines another situation where this might be important:

      There are many instances where elected officials might either support their first-choice legislation, settle for a cross-partisan compromise, or remain in deadlock.


      You're right to say that there isn't "someone out there making decisions on who we connect with" but there are people out there disseminating information among different groups with the intent being to hijack or "gerrymander" the discussions happening among groups that exist. Even the perception of infighting among people you trust or believe are on your side is enough to change the way you vote - this can and likely has been exploited.

      3 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        Sure, there is a lot of competition for attention, trolling tactics, attempts to create good publicity, negative ads, and so on. People can be gamed. But I don't think this competition is much...

        Sure, there is a lot of competition for attention, trolling tactics, attempts to create good publicity, negative ads, and so on. People can be gamed. But I don't think this competition is much like drawing lines on a map putting people into arbitrary groups, so I'm hoping this doesn't become a commonly-used term.

        1 vote