Utilities, Preferences and Choice

Martin Kroh, Cees van der Eijk

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In this paper we argue that theories of party choice are implicitly not about choice, but about electoral preferences or utilities. This distinction is not trivial, as individual choice can be deduced from individual preferences or utilities, whereas the reverse is not necessarily true. In spite of this, a large part of empirical electoral research is (implicitly) based on the analysis of ‘revealed’ preferences, i.e. preferences that have been deduced from choice by using interpersonal comparison to make up the informational deficit at the individual level. We argue that the risks of this approach can be avoided by an alternative approach, that entails the empirical observation of electoral utility. A practical procedure for doing so is presented, and some validating analyses are reported.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes
EventECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops 2003 - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Mar 20032 Apr 2003


ConferenceECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops 2003
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • IR-61249

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