RISKOPIA: Coping With Uncertainty in Representative Democracy

Research question/goal: 

As policy outcomes are associated with a high level of uncertainty, both citizens and politicians need to deal with risk. How does this affect decision-making and accountability in representative democracy? To answer this question, the project investigates the role of risk perceptions, risk preferences, and risk behaviour of representatives and represented in the delegation process. Specifically, the project tests whether the delegation process is disturbed by a divergence in risk perceptions and preferences between principals and agents, a lack of responsiveness of representatives to the public’s risk preferences, and/or a failure of the latter to hold representatives accountable for their risk behaviour. To do so, the project draws on survey and lab experiments, complemented by a qualitative analysis of selected decision-making processes in health, social, and environmental politics.

Current stage: 

To test basic assumptions about the role of risk preferences in the delegation process, several rounds of online experiments have been conducted. Specifically, the experiments focussed on exploring the existence of a potential "outcome bias" among voters when judging representatives based on their decisions made under uncertainty. The results of the experiments have been presented at different scientific conferences and workshops and prepared for submission to scientific journals.

Fact sheet

2020 to 2024
in preparation
Data Sources: 
Survey and lab experiments
Geographic Space: 
Germany and Austria