The first one wins : distilling the primacy effectThe first one wins : distilling the primacy effect
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
Media, Movements and Politics (M2P)
Department of Political Science
Electoral studies. - Guildford
44(2016), p. 245-254
University of Antwerp
Research has shown that in proportional, flexible list systems, ballot list position influences electoral success. In this paper we investigate to what extent this is due to the primacy effect, a psychological bias towards the first option in a list. We also examine alternative explanations such as the electoral beneficial traits these candidates share and extra media coverage they receive. Using data from the 2014 Belgian elections, we find that candidates with higher ballot list positions indeed score better because they have more political experience and receive more media attention. We also find strong evidence for the primacy effect which is caused by a confirmation bias as well as ballot list position being the easiest heuristic for voters.