Strategic voting in the lab: compromise and leader bias behavior. compromise and leader bias behavior

Reshef Meir, Kobi Gal, Maor Tal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Plurality voting is perhaps the most commonly used way to aggregate the preferences of multiple voters. Yet, there is no consensus on how people vote strategically, even in very simple settings. The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive study of people’s voting behavior in various online settings under the plurality rule. We implemented voting games that replicate two common real-world voting scenarios in controlled experiments. In the first, a single voter votes once after seeing a pre-election poll. In the second game, a group of voters play an iterative game, and change their vote as the game progresses (as in online voting). The winning candidate in each game (and hence the subject’s payment) is determined using the plurality rule. For each of these settings we generated hundreds of game instances, varying conditions such as the number of voters, subjects’ preferences over candidates and the poll information that was made available to the subjects prior to voting. We show that people can be classified into several groups, one of which is not engaged in any strategic behavior, while the largest group demonstrates both a tendency for strategic compromise, and a bias toward voting for the leader in the poll. We provide a detailed analysis of this group behavior for both settings, and how it depends on the poll information. Our study has insight for multi-agent system designers in uncovering patterns that provide reasonable predictions of voters’ behaviors, which may facilitate the design of agents that support people or act autonomously in voting systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalAutonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
StatePublished - 11 Mar 2020


  • Social choice
  • Voting
  • agent societies
  • Coordination in multi-agent systems
  • Agreement technologies


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