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Published March 1996 | Published
Journal Article Open

Information Aggregation, Rationality, and the Condorcet Jury Theorem


The Condorcet Jury Theorem states that majorities are more likely than any single individual to select the "better" of two alternatives when there exists uncertainty about which of the two alternatives is in fact preferred. Most extant proofs of this theorem implicitly make the behavioral assumption that individuals vote "sincerely" in the collective decision making, a seemingly innocuous assumption, given that individuals are taken to possess a common preference for selecting the better alternative. However, in the model analyzed here we find that sincere behavior by all individuals is not rational even when individuals have such a common preference. In particular, sincere voting does not constitute a Nash equilibrium. A satisfactory rational choice foundation for the claim that majorities invariably "do better" than individuals, therefore, has yet to be derived.

Additional Information

© 1996 American Political Science Association. Austen-Smith thanks faculty and staff at the Research School in the Social Sciences, Australian National University, for their hospitality during the completion of this paper. Banks is similarly appreciative of members at CREED, University of Amsterdam, and the Tinbergen Institute. Both authors thank the referees for useful comments and the NSF for financial support.

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