Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/142581
Authors: 
Spada, Paolo
Vreeland, Raymond
Year of Publication: 
2010
Series/Report no.: 
EERI Research Paper Series 19/2010
Abstract: 
Many believe that deliberative democracy, where individuals discuss alternatives before voting on them, should result in collectively superior outcomes because voters become better informed and decisions are justified using reason. These deliberations typically involve a moderator, however, whose role has been under-examined. We conduct a field experiment to test the effects moderators may have. Participants in a class of 107 students voted on options over their writing and exam requirements. Before voting, they participated in group discussions of about five people each with one moderator. Some (randomly assigned) moderators remained neutral throughout, while others made limited interventions, supporting a specific option. We find a substantial moderator effect. Our experiment is structured like deliberations used world-wide to make community decisions and thus should have some external validity. The results indicate that if organized interest groups had influence over moderators, they might be able to hijack a deliberative decision-making process.
Subjects: 
Participatory Decision Making
Field Experiment
Voting
JEL: 
G10
G30
G34
G38
K20
K22
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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