Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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Behavioural social choice: a status report


    Behavioural social choice has been proposed as a social choice parallel to seminal developments in other decision sciences, such as behavioural decision theory, behavioural economics, behavioural finance and behavioural game theory. Behavioural paradigms compare how rational actors should make certain types of decisions with how real decision makers behave empirically. We highlight that important theoretical predictions in social choice theory change dramatically under even minute violations of standard assumptions. Empirical data violate those critical assumptions. We argue that the nature of preference distributions in electorates is ultimately an empirical question, which social choice theory has often neglected. We also emphasize important insights for research on decision making by individuals. When researchers aggregate individual choice behaviour in laboratory experiments to report summary statistics, they are implicitly applying social choice rules. Thus, they should be aware of the potential for aggregation paradoxes. We hypothesize that such problems may substantially mar the conclusions of a number of (sometimes seminal) papers in behavioural decision research.