Misremembering motives: The unreliability of voters' memories of the reasons for their vote

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Murphy, Gillian
Loftus, Elizabeth
Hofstein Grady, Rebecca
Levine, Linda J.
Greene, Ciara M.
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In the aftermath of important votes, people are often asked to report why they voted as they did. In the current study, we assessed the consistency of these reports over a one- year period. Participants reported their reasons for voting Yes or No in the 2018 Irish abortion referendum one week, three months, six months, and 12 months post-referendum. While the top reasons given by Yes and No voting groups remained relatively consistent over time, there was significant individual inconsistency. Furthermore, when presented with a list of possible reasons at the end of the study, many participants failed to select reasons that they had previously reported. The findings suggest that voter memory of factors that influenced their vote can be unreliable. Moreover, reports are influenced by how the reasons are elicited (for example, by open response vs. selection from a list).
Memory , Decision-making , Reasoning , Metacognition , Politics
Murphy, G., Loftus, E., Grady, R. H., Levine, L. J. and Greene, C. M. (2020) 'Misremembering Motives: The Unreliability of Voters’ Memories of the Reasons for their Vote', Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, In Press, doi: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2020.08.004