A Study of Human Behavior in Online Voting

Maor Tal, Reshef Meir, Yakov Gal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Plurality voting is perhaps the most commonly used way to aggregate the preferences of multiple voters. The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive study of people's voting behaviour in various online settings under the Plurality rule. Our empirical methodology consisted of a voting game in which participants vote for a single candidate out of a given set.

We implemented voting games that replicate two common real-world voting scenarios: In the first, a single voter votes once after seeing a large pre-election poll. In the second game, several voters play simultaneously, and change their vote as the game progresses, as in small committees. 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 and their preferences.

We show that people can be classified into at least three groups, two of which are not engaged in any strategic behavior. The third and largest group tends to select the natural "default" action when there is no clear strategic alternative. When an active strategic decision can be made that improves their immediate payoff, people usually choose that strategic alternative. 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
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2015 International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
Place of PublicationIstanbul, Turkey
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-3413-6
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2015
Event2015 International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems - Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 4 May 20158 May 2015


Conference2015 International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
Abbreviated titleAAMAS'15


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