Interests, Information, and Minority Influence in Deliberation

2017

The ability of citizens to advance arguments and have them considered fairly is essential to the equality and epistemic quality of deliberative institutions. This article builds on game-theoretic models of strategic information transmission to offer a theory of how the interests that deliberators have in the outcome of deliberation can reduce the influence of some citizens in deliberative process. Specifically, this article argues that the influence of an argument depends on whether the deliberator making the argument is in the majority or minority in terms of her interests in the outcome of deliberation. An argument made by a member of the minority will be less influential than the same argument made by a member of the majority. We offer the first empirical test of this kind of model in realistic deliberative conditions using a laboratory experiment and a field experiment and find support for this theory.