Under what conditions are citizens able and willing to take into account post- election bargaining processes? In this article, we show that the ability of voters to cast rational decisions in multi-party contexts is conditional on distinct aspects of political sophistication and engagement. In our experimental design, we ask subjects to participate in several mock elections. Participants are asked to vote in such a way, that the final electoral outcome is as close as possible to their own ideal position. In a control group, less than 10% of the individual vote decisions lead to outcomes that were as close as possible to the voters’ individual preferences. The share of optimal decisions increases drastically if we increase the available information and abolish time constraints to solve the task. Interestingly, monetary incentives do not have a direct effect on the accuracy of voting decisions, but rather moderate the beneficial effects of available information and reduced time constraints. These results indicate that three aspects of political sophistication and engagement – information, capabilities and motivation – have differential effects on the ability of citizens to cast strategic voting decisions in multi-party systems.

[Poster]