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Heuristics are cues or “mental shortcuts” people employ to solve problems or make decisions in situations where correct answers and effective courses of action may otherwise be difficult or impossible to discern. Systematic research on how heuristics influence political decision-making has focused heavily on factors that affect voting behavior in the United States and other mature democracies. These studies are closely intertwined with the development of survey research techniques for measuring public political beliefs, attitudes, and opinions, with additional important influences coming from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology. This entry discusses major findings and continuing controversies in research on political heuristics. The role of normative concerns about the quality of democratic governance as a motivating factor for the political heuristics research program is also considered.

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