Rational Choice Theory Hassan Ibrahim
What is it ? Well rational choice theory is a one of the four main theories of voting behaviour It is when a the role of judgement is placed on a individual to make a rational judgement on what party he/she should vote for. In the 80s the emphasis on the other theories of voting behaviour e.g. Psychological and sociological was seen to be less effective in voting behaviour as rational choice was more common. For one to make a rational choice the voter would choose what best suits his/her wants and needs, by comparing the political parties to each other the voter would pick out the best possible fit. Psychologists recognised that voting was becoming a more instrumental act, with people using it as a means by which to achieve their goal.
Who proposed it ? Initially the rational choice theory has always been a part of a voters brain, psychologically everybody makes a rational choices in there daily life's, whether it be finding a bargain for something you like or choosing which political party benefits you the most. But technically Hilde Himmelweit a social psychology lecturer at LSE (London school of economics) was the founder of the rational choice theory thus being the first to propose the theory ‘This may be a judgment based on the past performance of a particular administration or it maybe more related to the prospects for the individual and his/her family under any alternative. Either way, their assessments of parties were based on self-interest, i.e. The voters’ (1981)
Evidence for it ? As yesterday was the last day for the polls to be open for the London mayoral election, candidates have been on the streets getting in their last minute campaigning. Voters have a choice of seven candidates; Siobhan Benita, Independent; Carlos Cortiglia, BNP(SCUM); Boris Johnson, Conservative; Jenny Jones, Green Party, Ken Livingstone, Labour; Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrats and Lawrence Webb, UK Independence Party. Therefore rational choice comes into affect as the majority of the public would wait until the last minute to place there votes. Listening to all the campaigner and manifestos of the running mayors one will make a choice biased on self benefits. Thus meaning these kind of voters would be classed as ‘partisan dealigned’
Evidence against it Mass media impact does prove that rational choice theory may not be as effective as the other 3 theories. A newspaper s delivered or people have access to one in many households: on a average day, nearly 60% of people over the age of 15 read a morning paper. This means 60% are exposed to biased presentation of news and current affairs via the media. 97% of homes have a television so the likely-hood of somebody being influenced by the media is very high. The Rational Choice Theory would not be as a effective as other theories because if your given biased opinions from a media institute run by elitists you are unable to make a rational choice yourself as you are a giving in to what the media may or may not choose to feed, thus clouding your judgment.